The exhibition features Amazonian basketry, textiles, carvings, feather works and ceramics both of everyday and of ceremonial use, representing Indigenous, Maroon and white settler communities. Today, these groups confront threats caused by political violence, mining, oil and gas exploration, industrial agriculture, forest fires and hydroelectric plants. Challenging visitors to examine their own notions towards holistic well-being, the exhibition covers more than 100 years of unsuspected relationships between Vancouver and Amazonian peoples, ideas and their struggles.
Amazonia departs from a social philosophy, known in Spanish as “buen vivir,” in which the concept of a good life proposes a holistic approach to development that intertwines notions of unity, equality, dignity, reciprocity, social and gender equality. The concept aligns directly with value systems intrinsic to Indigenous South American cultures, and serves as a rallying cry to move beyond Western ideals and practices of development and progress largely measured by profit.
The objects displayed in Amazonia have been exclusively assembled from MOA’s collection of acquisitions and donations. Included amongst the exhibition are items from Frank Burnett’s founding collection, donated to the University of British Columbia in 1927, ensuring the exhibition spans more than 100 years of exchange between Vancouver and Amazonian peoples.
Taking over MOA’s O’Brian Gallery, the exhibit’s items are primarily composed of simple, identifiable elements: vegetal fibers, wood, animal parts, clay or feathers. These uncomplicated components are transformed into extremely sophisticated and intricate textiles, basketry, ceramics, feather works and jewelry, displaying the knowledge and craftsmanship of some of the groups who reside in the region. Taken in its entirety, the exhibition promises to offer a revealing window into one of the world’s more culturally, socially and linguistically diverse regions, as well as a new framework for addressing some of the globe’s most pressing environmental challenges.
Curator: Nuno Porto