Video Room: Bepunu Mebengokré Collective
MASP, Art Museum of Sao Paulo
Mar. 24, 2023 - Jun. 18, 2023
MASP PRESENTS VIDEO ROOM: BEPUNU MEBENGOKRÉ COLLECTIVE
Indigenous collective portrays the production process of body art in body painting rituals through short films that cover everything from pigment extraction to the symbolic and ancestral meanings of these practices
MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand presents, from March 24 through June 18, 2023, on the 2nd underground floor of the museum, Sala de vídeo: Coletivo Bepunu Mebengokré [Video Room: Bepunu Mebengokré Collective], which shows the short films Menire djê: grafismo das mulheres Mebengokré-Kayapó [Menire djê: graphics of Mebengokré-Kayapó women] (2019) and Mê’ok: nossa pintura [Mê’ok: our painting] (2014). Curated by Edson Kayapó, assistant curator of indigenous art, MASP, the documentary works comprise narratives about the ancient art of body painting, carried out by Mebengokré-Kayapó women.
The Bepunu Mebengokré Collective, coordinated by the young leader and filmmaker Bepunu Kayapó, has taken on a leading role in presenting the stories and ancestry of the Mebengokré people to the non-indigenous society through audiovisual productions. The paths taken by the narrative scripts, as well as the focus of the collective’s lens, center their actions around cosmologies, relationships with the forest and on giving visibility to stories that are little known to non-indigenous people. In hopes of facilitating access by Brazilian society and the international community to stories of the Mebengokré ancestors, the collective contributes to the realization of these people’s rights in the present day and in the fight against ecocide in the Brazilian Amazon.
The ancestral practice that seals the continuity of tradition is portrayed in Menire djê: grafismo das mulheres Mebengokré-Kayapó [Menire djê: graphics of Mebengokré-Kayapó women] (2019) – a production resulting from the workshop for new filmmakers held in the Moikarakô village, where the members of the collective live. The documentary narrates the production process of jagua ink, from harvesting to mixing with ground charcoal, which brings the appropriate pigmentation and consistency for applying onto bodies. Following the preparation of the paint, the protagonist of the work paints her own daughter and remembers how her grandparents and parents played a significant role in the relationship she built with her past.
In Mê’ok: nossa pintura [Mê’ok: our painting] (2014), the symbolism of transmitting knowledge to new generations is exalted in an exercise of memory and belonging, alongside the everyday scenery of the village in the south of the Brazilian state of Pará. Produced by Museu do Índio, with the prominent role of filmmaker Bepunu and other Kayapó people, the short film expands the dialogue with the Mebengokré cosmologies from the universe of indigenous body art, in a series of interviews and records with people who grew up with jagua and annatto body painting applied by their mothers, becoming processes for maintaining the tradition until the present day. “The focus of the lens opens, and the narratives expand, dealing with an ancestral art that reveals little-known but very significant aspects of the daily life and cosmopower of that people,” explains curator Edson Kayapó.