Daiara Tukano joins columnist Madeleine Bazil in an interview for Where The Leaves Fall magazine, about her solo exhibition at the Richard Saltoun Gallery Rome. As a Brazilian Indigenous artist and activist, her works portray Tukano histories of ancient narratives of the creation of the world, of life and of humanity.
“There are many emotions, being able to see up close so many layers of history that are present here in this city,” she says. These items hold stories of persecution, destruction, prohibition of language and sacred practices and assimilation into Western culture; they are, as Tukano explains, “the inheritance, the legacy left by my grandfather, my uncles, my ancestors… and I try to continue this transmission of knowledge also through art.” Indeed, Tukano’s practice is characterised by deconstructing - as the exhibition text puts it - “the legacies of racism and colonialism that silence and marginalise Indigenous communities around the world, [and] doing so through a powerful feminine lens.”
In the case of the Tukano community, and other Indigenous groups, culture is inextricable from territory. And territory is at stake: Indigenous communities are defenders and caretakers of more than 80% of the planet’s biodiversity, Tukano reminds me, and Indigenous lands are unduly affected by human-driven destruction. Art, then, is a means to address and redress issues of cultural memory, land, coloniality, grief, violence, connection and resilience. Speaking with Tukano and engaging with her work, it feels clear to me that healing of this sort is a multifaceted notion: encompassing historical time, present action, and future imagining - and spanning humankind and the nonhuman world. The artist puts it best herself: “Our worldviews help us read the world; Indigenous thoughts that maintain a non-colonised worldview have always warned about the possibility of what we witness today in nature. So reaffirming our culture and our narratives is the best weapon we have to maintain a relationship with a living and prosperous world - different from the culture of exploitation and consumption built by colonialism.”
Kihtimori: Creation Memories is on until 22 December 2023, Richard Saltoun Gallery Rome.
To read the full piece, please visit Where The Leaves Fall website.