Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe: All This Is Us
Sep. 24, 2023, 12:00 am
MASP — Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand presents the show Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe: tudo isso somos nós [Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe: All This Is Us], from June 30th to September 24th, 2023, in the gallery located in the 1st underground floor of the museum. With curatorship of André Mesquita, MASP curator, and David Ribeiro, MASP assistant curator, the exhibit gathers 109 drawings, monotypes and paintings that rescue ancient traditions, oral memory and cosmological knowledge of the artist’s Yanomami community, located in Alto Orinoco, in the Venezuelan Amazon.
Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe (Sheroana, Alto Orinoco, Venezuelan Amazon, 1971) is a Yanomami visual artist, currently living in Mahekoto Teri, also in Alto Orinoco. Hakihiiwe started to produce art after his encounter with Laura Anderson Barbata, Mexican artist. Together, they developed a technique of paper production with native plant fibers – a material that the artist uses as support for his drawings. Ever since, the artist started to develop minimal and delicate drawings, with colored patterns and symbols texturized on the broad and intense relation that his community has with the landscape, being his work a contemporaneous review of the Yanomami imagery and cosmogony.
“My work in these papers is close to all the universe I know with the uriji [forest], that I see when I walk through it accompanied by people from my community and family. The different ink sources that we use to make the pigment. I also know the animals and plants, their traces and how they move in the forest. The shapori [shaman] talks to me and tells me about things, animals talk through shamans, the spirits help us”, said Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe.
The exhibit’s subtitle Ihi hei komi thepe kamie yamaki [All This Is Us] was the artist’s suggestion to incorporate the diversity of elements that construct his community and his surroundings. With 109 works, the show presents only a small part of this universe with drawings, paintings and monotypes produced over craft papers made by Hakihiiwe using native fiber such as cane, cotton, blackberry, banana, and corn. With different colors and textures, these supports are not like neutral papers industrially produced, because they have to deal with and against time and its materiality and conservation.
The symbolic universe of Hakihiiwe is directly related to the meaning of his production. The curator André Mesquita states that “the artist works in a constant way of creating paintings, monotypes and unique drawings, series on the same theme and a repetition of visual motifs. The artist also has a special care with preservation: his work is a memory act redefining relationships, readings, stories and visions on the perceptions and ideas of representation, archive, record, observation, dream, technology, nature, daily life and history. In order to never lose or make all this knowledge invisible, he tries to preserve them, in defense and persistence of a collective memory, reconstructed and materialized in his work.
In the middle of these intertwined practices, species, knowledge and lifes, Hakihiiwe proposes a work that unfolds images and materials of cultural community value. In several drawings and paintings, the artist uses plants to handmake the inks, and they are obtained from leaves, fruits, animals, and woods. In the monotype Jena riye riye [Green Leaf] (2021), Hakihiiwe disposes of 24 green leaves in a way that reminds a botanical treatise, with an attentive eye to the ribbing of leaves representation. “The work states the extremely detailed eye the artist sets on the elements of nature, even when conceived in its minimal expressions: one leaf”, says the assistant curator, David Ribeiro.
The Yanomamy people rights, habitants of the Venezuelan territory, were recognized by the local legislation in 1999, in a similar way to what is guaranteed by the Brazilian Constitution regarding the right to difference, that being: their social, politic, and economic organizations, as well as their cultures and spiritualities, language and territory. According to Hakihiiwe, this recognition doesn’t stop, however, the real and everyday threats to the Yanomami. The artist describes the sadness he feels when he sees the Orinoco River polluted, stopping the children from playing and bathing in it. He also states the destruction caused by non-indigenous people that led to the death and disappearance of two entire communities: “We are not very well right now”.
“To hold a show by Hakihiiwe in the year of the Indigenous Histories in MASP, means to present the public to fighting, survival and resistance stories, as well as to beauty, diversity and creation, paying attention to the responsibility, protection, collective care, critical thinking and preservation of native people, their ancestral knowledges and the plurality of its cultures and territories”, states Mesquita.
Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe: All This Is Us is part of MASP’s annual agenda, dedicated to Indigenous History. This year the schedule also includes exhibits by de Carmézia Emiliano, MAHKU, Paul Gauguin, Melissa Cody, besides the Long-term loan MASP Landmann of pre-Columbian ceramics and metals and the main collective exhibit Histórias indígenas.
ABOUT SHEROANAWE HAKIHIIWE
Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe is a Yanomami visual artist born in 1971, in Sheroana, Alto Orinoco, in the Venezuelan amazon, who lives today in Mahekoto-Teri, in the same region he was born. Since 2004, the artist’s work has been exhibited in individual shows in Venezuela and Brazil, as well as in London, Madrid, Barcelona, and Lisbon. His first individual show happened in Brazil, in 2021, at Galeria Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, located in Rio de Janeiro. The artist was also part of collective exhibits like the 23rd Venice Biennale (2022) and the show Les Vivants (Fondation Cartier, France, 2022), besides several other around the world, including countries like Germany, Belgium, Argentina, United States, Colombia, Canada, Australia and Nepal. In Brazil, he was part of Our North is the South (Gomide & Co., 2021), A Natural History of Ruins (Pivô, 2021) and Bienal de Curitiba (2012). Hakihiiwe received awards and honors, such as: a residency fellowship of Piramidón (Barcelona, 2021); the Refresh Irinox award at the contemporary art fair Artissima (Turim, 2019); and the first award from the Bienal Internacional de Artes Indígenas Contemporâneas de Conaculta (Cidade do México, 2012). This is the first show of the artist in a museum in Brazil.
In addition to the show, a bilingual catalogue (Portuguese/English) will be published with reproductions work by the Yanomami artist. The book, edited by Adriano Pedrosa, André Mesquita and David Ribeiro, includes essays from André Mesquita, Catalina Lozano, David Ribeiro, Noraeden Mora Mendez e Trudruá Dorrico. Designed by = Alles Blau, the publication has a harcover edition.