Still from Amerika - Bahia de las setas. Photo: Disclosure.
Still from Amerika - Bahia de las setas. Photo: Disclosure.

In 1519, Enrique, one of the few remaining caciques in the Dominican Republic, withdrew himself and part of his people from the reach of Spanish authority. For nearly a decade and a half, he and his followers lived in the remote south-central mountains of his home island, occasionally raiding Spanish settlements in search of weapons and tools and clashing with militia units.

According to researcher Ida Altman, “Enrique avoided the numerous patrols sent to eradicate what became a stubbornly persistent site of defiance to Spanish authority that drew in other disaffected island residents, including African and indigenous slaves and serfs, as well as a small number of nominally free Indians.

Curiously, Lake Enriquillo ended up being named in honor of the individual who rebelled against one of the protagonists of the “history of the victors”: fHi on that lake where Christopher Columbus landed in 1492 and confronted the indigenous Taino people to establish the first European settlement on our continent.

Inspired by this history of resistance, the artist Ana Vaz [1] created America – Bahia de las setas, whose subtitle refers to another emblematic episode in the Dominican Republic, of the struggle of local indigenous peoples against Spanish occupation. The Bay of Arrows is the old name of the current Samaná, where legend reports that the Spaniards were received with a rain of arrows so intense that it would have darkened the sky.

In this work, Vaz revisits Lake Enriquillo and uses the camera as an extension of the body itself; with such an ethnographic observation, the artist evokes the cultural and ecological change suffered by the territory to make history emerge from the scenario itself.

Em america, written and oral information coexists with the visual and auditory appreciation of the world around, perhaps even more constitutive. The debate over the alleged opposition between culture and nature incorporated here is not new in the work of Vaz, who since past projects has studied other ways of exploring history – with a certain poetic freedom imbued by artists that is not common to historians, for example. In his recent exploration, we can highlight the questioning of the names of places, what name they have and their “why”.

For the Videobrasil Commented Collection, curator and art historian Sabrina Moura [2] comment america, watch below:

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Videobrasil Commented Collection is a partnership between arte!brasileiros and Associação Cultural Videobrasil. Every 15 days we publish, on our platform and on our social networks, a part of its important collection of works (gathered in more than 30 years of experience). In each episode, a different personality – ranging from artists to curators, from researchers to diplomats – unravels the work or a particularity of it, highlighting points in these works that we might not have discovered yet. Check out the other episodes in this link.

[1] She is a visual artist and filmmaker, graduated from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia (2009), and an MA in Film and Visual Arts from Le Fresnoy Studio des Arts Contemporains, Tourcoing, France (2013). His films, publications, performances and video installations reflect on the relationship between cinema and language, investigating the symbolic relationships regarding architectural legacies, utopian projects and power relations through their vestiges. She has held the solo exhibitions Framing Nature, Vita Kuben, Ümea, Sweden (2017); and Amérika: Bay of Arrows, Ludlow 67, New York (2017), and participated in the group shows Excusez-moi de vous avoir dérrangés, Khiasma, Paris (2017); Performing Oppositions, Casa do Povo, São Paulo (2017); Moscow Biennial of Young Art (2016); Obscure Objects of Desire, Paramound Ranch, Los Angeles (2016); and 3rd Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2016), among others. She had a retrospective of her films at Melbourne Cinémathèque, Australia (2013) and Void Gallery, Ireland (2014). She lives and works in Lisbon.
[2] Sabrina Moura is a curator and art historian, with a PhD from Unicamp. She was a visiting researcher at Columbia University and curator of public programs at the 18th and 19th Festivals of Contemporary Art Sesc_Videobrasil. She organized the book Southern Panoramas | Readings | Outlook | Towards Other Geographies of Thought.

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