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Arissana Pataxó, Denilson Baniwa and Gustavo Caboco Wapichana, the curators for the Hãhãwpuá Pavilion highlight Indigenous perspectives on art, culture, and resistance in ‘Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere’, curated by Adriano Pedrosa

Glicéria Tupinambá, Tupinambá Community of Serra do Padeiro, Okará Assojaba, 2024. Installation using tarrafa nets, feather mantles, and letters. © Rafa Jacinto / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

The Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, proudly announces Brazil’s participation in the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The exhibition, titled “Ka’a Pûera: nós somos pássaros que andam” (“Ka’a Pûera: we are walking birds”), is led by Glicéria Tupinambá and curated by Arissana Pataxó, Denilson Baniwa, and Gustavo Caboco Wapichana. This year’s selection process was more inclusive, involving a committee from all organizing bodies, resulting in the Brazil Pavilion being renamed the Hãhãwpuá Pavilion. The exhibition highlights the resilience and cultural richness of the Tupinambá people, addressing themes of marginalisation, deterritorialisation, and territorial rights violations. Glicéria Tupinambá, a prominent artist and 2023 PIPA Prize winner, community and other guests, highlights narratives of indigenous resistance and resurgence. Through the metaphor of Ka’a Pûera, symbolising both the regeneration of deforested areas and a small camouflaging bird, the exhibition aligns with the Biennale’s theme “Foreigners Everywhere,” emphasising the enduring spirit and cultural heritage of Brazil’s indigenous communities.

ART AFRICA: ‘Ka’a Pûera: we are walking birds’ by Glicéria Tupinambá and guests will be sharing the wealth of Tupinambá culture and their journey of resistance and resurgence. Tell us how this will unfold within the pavilion and your programming.

Arissana Pataxó, Denilson Baniwa and Gustavo Caboco Wapichana: Ka’a Pûera refers to the resistance not only of the Tupinambá people in this territory that we nowadays call Brazil but also on some level represents the more than 300 indigenous peoples who currently resist in their territories, in urban areas or even in spaces of territorial disputes, a reality experienced by most communities. In the Pavilion, Glicéria brings her community to be part of the work through images captured by young people from the Atã Collective during a workshop with elders from the Serra do Padeiro and Olivença communities in Bahia. Olinda Tupinambá, from the Caramuru Indigenous Land, is also part of the exhibition, addressing ecological and land exploitation issues. Ziel Karapotó brings references to the contexts of violence and resistance, extremes that have accompanied indigenous peoples since the arrival of the first colonisers. Talking about Brazil from an indigenous point of view, it made sense to us to start with peoples that had the first contact with the colonisers and have since undergone profound transformations as a way to survive to this day.

Glicéria Tupinambá, Atã Tupinambá Group, Tupinambá Community of Serra do Padeiro, Dobra do tempo infinito [Fold of infinite time], 2024. Video installation using images from workshops with the communities of Serra do Padeiro and Olivença, seeds, leaves, soil, fishing nets, jereré, and samburá. © Rafa Jacinto / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

The exhibition sees the Brazil Pavilion renamed the Hãhãwpuá Pavilion. Why is this, and what significance does the name hold for the curator and artists?

To bring a word from an indigenous language into the context of this pavilion is to show that there are other ways of seeing, living and naming the Brazilian territory. It shows that before it was Brazil, this territory had and still has other names, called by people who were here before the first invaders arrived. Hãhãwpuá is how the Pataxó name this great territory, which today is inhabited not only by indigenous peoples but also by so many other peoples who have come here from other continents. In the same way, it is presenting to the Biennale’s audience that we must try to understand that Brazil is a culturally and linguistically plural territory, in other words, there is not a single Brazilian people, there are thousands of people and each one understands this territory of Brazil based on their relationship with it.

Olinda Tupinambá, Pataxó Hãhãhãe Community – Caramuru Paraguaçu Indigenous Land, Equilíbrio [Balance], 2020–2024. Video installation composed of soil and seeds. © Rafa Jacinto / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

The Tupinambá were persecuted, stripped of their material rights and even said to be extinct. Please elaborate more on their history of being foreigners in their Hahaw (ancestral territory), and finally being recognised by the Brazilian State.

Being recognised by the state as indigenous people is a way of guaranteeing the rights that are expressed in the Constitution, such as the right to traditional territory, even if it is a right that takes a lot of fighting to conquer. Not being recognised puts indigenous communities in extreme situations of social vulnerability that can lead to territorial invasions and even expulsions, as has happened before, and is still happening in many places in Brazil today. Many indigenous peoples, especially those who live in the Northeast, like the Tupinambá, have experienced similar situations in which official and even anthropological history did not recognise them as indigenous peoples and denied their existence. This is because for a long time the government, through FUNAI, defined who was or wasn’t indigenous using criteria that didn’t fit these peoples, excluding them from the category of ‘indigenous’.

Ka’a Puera and (capoeira) refer to deforestation, regeneration and a small bird found in the forest. Please explain these references and their contexts within ‘Ka’a Pûera: we are walking birds’.

For the exhibition we brought two meanings of the word Ka’a Puera: the bird that inhabits dense forests but lives in a more terrestrial way and whose feather colours resemble the dry leaves that fall to the ground and help it to camouflage itself, protecting it from predators; And, the meaning of Ka’a Puera as a space of small vegetation that has regenerated after its trees have been cut down and can become a forest again in the future. These two meanings of this word show a reality experienced by indigenous peoples who struggle daily to protect themselves and who have undergone regeneration processes, especially after the Constitution of 88 guaranteed indigenous peoples the right to live in their communities with their customs and beliefs, as highlighted in Art. 231: ‘The Indians are recognised for their social organisation, customs, languages, beliefs and traditions, and the original rights over the lands they traditionally occupy, which are the responsibility of the Union to demarcate’.

Ziel Karapotó, Karapotó Terra Nova CommunityCardume [School of Fish], 2023. Installation composed of fishing net, gourd maracas, replicas of fired cartridges and soundscape. © Rafa Jacinto / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

What impact do you hope ‘Ka’a Pûera: we are walking birds’ will have in the broader context of the biennale theme “Foreigners Everywhere” on addressing deforestation and the marginalisation of indigenous peoples?

We don’t know and can’t say that the situation will change after one exhibition, but we can point out that having an indigenous presence in these spaces leads to future opportunities for dialogue and allows us to show from our perspective what has been happening in our territories and in the places we inhabit and pass through. We hope to return in 10 years and talk again about what has changed since then. From our side, as curators, artists and researchers, we will be working to ensure that indigenous knowledge and art increasingly tension ideas about art, culture, rights, protagonism, reclamation, and so many other issues from which we have been relegated throughout Brazilian history.

The exhibition will be on view until the 24th of November, 2024.

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