The Etochime Harakbut 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 of the collective range in age from 4-44 years old 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.
This presentation consists of line paintings that traditionally are natural plant dyes painted on the body as a symbol of respect to the spirits of the jungle. It is believed that through these lines a more profound connection to the jungle deities manifest through the sacred master plants is possible. The central black & white graphic image is of the Anämëi tree, which is at the heart of their origin story. Just as the tree saved the Harakbut and gave rise to many species of animals and plants, the Harakbut iconographies also originated there. The tree became a symbol of unity, respect and harmony with the forest and other beings of the Harakbut worlds. This painting is by Yesica Patiachi, the leader of the Etochime collective who in fact was chosen to represent all Indigenous Amazonians and 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 other paintings here represent the negative impact that illegal gold mining in the region has had on their culture and their territories.