Creating in a different community

During this year’s artist in residency program of Centro Selva Art and Science, participating artists are from Argentina, England, Peru, Suriname and USA. During this program I interact with and learn from another community then where I am from. Diana Riesco-Lind, one of the participating artists, is the president of this Peruvian nonprofit organization. I have the opportunity to work with her, and people of Manco Capac. This is a small village in Ucayali, Peru. People here are living mostly from agriculture and farming. The name ‘Manco Capac’ comes from a myth, about the first Inca king that thought agriculture to the people. Together Centro Selva and I create an impact in this small community.

As part of this residency, Diana and I work with the local community. To create a public sculpture around a welt, that is not in use anymore. This artwork rises at a place where the community often gathers. I believe that this public artwork and the welt are beautiful metamorphoses for new life that emerges from something that has come to an end. When I applied for the residency, my idea is to work on the themes of live, death and rebirth. While interacting with the community and working together with Diana, changes are made to the concept I applied with. Two meetings with the people here, in which a creative process takes place, lead us to adjust the first concept. The output is a pyramid-like structure that is decorated with elements the community members brought up. While the first idea is to create a closed pyramid, the final a group of triangles that forms an open result pyramid. ‘This shows more optimism’ I think to myself now. ‘It is like the opening of a flower’, I remember telling Diana. To the community the sculpture shows pride and prosperity. Could this be seen as a translation of life, death and rebirth? Anyway, the people in Manco Capac identify themselves in the artwork. When it will be done, an object that captures what this community loves and how they think about their village, will stands out for every passerby to see. 

In total we are seven artists on a farm in Ucayali. At the start of this year’s international program of Sentro Selva, we are taken on a walk, on sightseeing in the city, and stay one night in the village of the Shipibo community working with their children. Shipibo an indigenous groups of the Amazon in Peru that is known by deforming their skull. In the days they use to deform the scull of a new born, a technique for esthetic purpose, the belief is that this makes them stand further from the ape. Learning about this tradition, that is starving nowadays, is a spark to me. It brings me to questions about their technique, the human mind, and about evolution. ‘What influence might this tradition have on the brain of Shipibo people over time?’ I ask myself. Using this dying tradition as an inspiration could be a great value for my work as an artist. This way I can think about technology in a new way. 

This residency is different than a previous program I am in, before arriving in Peru. In the other program, at Arquetopia, I am also with an international group of artists and art historians. This is a six weeks artist in residency in Peubla, Mexico. A difference between the two programsis that the first one’s focus is on the process: learning through art workshops, attending art history seminars, receiving readings every week, and a weekly individual or group critique. Centro Selva’s residency focuses on creating art products that are inspired by the Amazon.