ETOCHIME Harakbut Artist Collective
Etochime is an Indigenous art collective from Madre de Dios in the southern Peruvian Amazon. In their native Harakbut language Etochime means "our roots" and they identify their artistic practice as such: PAINT SO AS NOT TO FORGET. The members range in age from 4-44 and are all self taught artists. Paint on canvas is not their traditional art form but they have chosen this medium as a means through which to communicate with the West to share their urgent messages.
Yesica Patiachi is the driving force behind Etochime and was chosen to represent all Indigenous Amazonians to address Pope Francis when he visited Peru in 2018 warning that the Amazon’s indigenous people have never been so threatened in their territories as they are now demanding an end to the relentless exploitation of the region’s timber, gas and gold. The illegal gold mining so prevalent in Madre de Dios has had a tremendously negative impact on the cultural survival and territories of the Harakbut peoples.
These images show the environmental degradation near the community where Yesica is from due to the illegal mining activities as well as some homes there. Here she is pictured with her mother gathering leaves to make the natural plant dye which traditionally the Harakbut used to paint iconic lines on their bodies. These lines were painted on the body as a symbol of respect to their sacred forest and it is believed that through these lines a spiritual connection to the beings of the jungle was possible.