Rstill. And the rain brought joy to Ailton Krenak in a moment that synthesized the speeches of the first table of the VI ARTE!Brasileiros International Seminar, which also included Naiara Tukano and Antonio Donato Nobre.
Naiara opened the event with a song by her people Yepá Mahsã, from the top of Rio Negro, in the Amazon, and a brief and blunt manifesto. “We, indigenous peoples, are the living memory of thousands of years, our visions and worldviews are our science, where we learn to communicate and live together with the land. That is why we defend life and diversity,” he said in an excerpt from the initial message.
After the speeches of institutional opening by Patricia Rousseaux, for arte!brasileiros, and Julian Fuchs, by the Goethe-Institut, Krenak would be the first to speak, but a connection problem postponed his testimony, luckily for those who attended the seminar.
Thanks to the connection problem, we ended up witnessing the first rain after months of drought at Aldeia Krenak, on the banks of the Rio Doce, in Minas Gerais, which was greeted by the joy and singing of the indigenous leader and former constituent deputy. As soon as the rain started, he turned his computer over to share the scene with those attending the seminar. “The most beautiful art is this rain that falls from the sky now, on top of these hills, making the earth breathe, falling on dry land, making a lump rise from the ground,” he said excitedly.
Nothing is more in tune with this moment than the reasoning he developed about “this scandal of affirming that there is nature and culture, separating something indivisible”.
The paths of the heart
This inclusive view had already been defended by Antonio Donato Nobre in his opening speech: “Indigenous people are the true sages of nature, they have a direct connection with nature and have preserved that connection, which global society has lost. I want to come here to give a message as a scientist, but from a scientist who is discovering the ways of the heart”.
Something in common in these three opening speeches was the need for affection and respect for the planet, which Nobre pointed out in a parallel between the philosopher Socrates and the astronauts. “2500 years ago, Socrates would have said that when the human being looks at the outside world, he will recognize his greatness. People who live in contact with nature are aware of what it means to be on Earth,” he said.
Then he reported how astronauts gain the same perception after returning from space: “When they see the Earth from outside, they are instantly transformed, they have the overview effect, which is the panorama effect suggested by Socrates.”
Thus, astronauts and indigenous people do not suffer from distancing from the planet, or a division that replicates in the separation between mind and body. For the scientist, “there is a cognitive disaster in Western society, which occurred mainly in Europe, of the divorce between the so-called rational mind, where the intellect resides, and the broad, intuitive, holistic, integrative cognition”.
So, according to Nobre, it is necessary to stop thinking just with reason: “It is the heart that unites the whole body and it thinks too, because neuroscience has discovered that it has neurological tissues. So, when we have an open heart, we capture things. Without a heart, the intellect is cold, it can do aberrant things”. In his speech, he cited the scientists who contributed to Nazism as an example, but there is no shortage of government cases in Brazil that confirm the theory.
Be sure to watch the full speech to see the short video shared by Donato, developed over a decade, which points out how the Amazon is the heart of the planet.
Naiara Tukano, on the other hand, began her speech by telling about the cosmology of her people, which came from the great transformation canoe, the Cobra-Canoa. It was in the womb of a Cobra-Canoa that the first ancestors of the Tukano peoples set out on an underwater journey through the Amazon, Negro and Uaupés rivers, in the northwest of the Amazon, and thus arrived in the region where they currently live , in the Upper Rio Negro. The canoe stopped along this route and, at each stop, these ancestors acquired powers and knowledge that are still part of the cultural heritage of the ethnic groups of the Tukano family.
Naiara told how, thousands of years before this trip, “we were fish people, until we became animals that live in the forests, like otters, monkeys; then the breeder came and cut the animals' tails and brought man to earth, this being the third time of humanity, when man appeared”.
The significance of this animal ancestor and of this transformation process over time has an important reflection in Tukano thought: “We must understand that other visible and invisible beings that live on Earth are our relatives, they tell us how we should act without causing harm or even receive evil. So, we never forget our place”, said Naiara.
Hence, then, the perception of the importance of caring for the planet in a global way, as she states: “When we disrupt Earth's flows, we harm it, because it is a whole, it has its own conscience and we cannot cut it out like a mosaic, as we are doing. For hundreds of years our shamans have warned us to take care of nature, we are nature. ”
And she concludes on the importance of reviewing attitudes in times of pandemic: “We need to reconnect with our essence, and through art, spirituality, songs, that we connect again with the earth. Plant, reduce waste, seek a simple way of life, seek other forms of exchange based on other wisdoms. It is by reconnecting with the earth that we can seek a path of healing. The breath of life exists in each one of us”.
Shortly after what had been programmed, Ailton Krenak entered the seminar problematizing one of the genres of painting. “All the great masters of painting in the West have left a trail of still life behind them”, he said. And he continued: “Could it be that they were foreshadowing a time when nature was going to rise up, leave those screens and invade our lives in the form of viruses, in the form of affection, in the sense of turning us inside out, of questioning us, and denounce that there is no boundary between culture and nature, except in our mentalities, calling for a change in mentality”.
Later, he would explain that “as poets, these artists were foreshadowing what is happening in the 21st century; it is not a complaint, an accusation, but a revelation of what we were going to live a long time later”.
But he warned the art world: “It is as if the idea of our art biennials, of our galleries, were all in the past, overcome by time, by the urgency of a new mentality, of us learning humans to step with careful, stepping gently on Earth, deeply marked by our footprints, which put us on the threshold of this Anthropocene”.
It was around that time that the rain and the most poetic moment of the seminar began. While he affirmed that “the sky will always give us the art of the possible”, a water truck passes by, as if to remember the destruction of the Rio Doce by Samarco, five years ago, and which made it necessary to supply it with vehicles that cover 200 years. km to 300 km to supply the village with 130 families.
And Krenak concluded with Naiara: “When I questioned the division we make between nature and culture, it is a call for people to live more immersed in nature and in our own experience of the body being nature”.