This exhibition is the result of an invitation extended to Olinda Silvano (Reshinjabe) and the Shinan Imabo (Our Inspirations) women’s collective to rethink and represent the last two years of the health, social, and political crisis based on their concerns, urgent needs, and desires. Shinan Imabo is part of the Shipibo-Konibo people. They live in the Cantagallo community, located on the right bank of the Rímac river, in Lima, which is currently the most populous Indigenous settlement in an urban area of Peru. The project was developed for INSITE Commonplaces, an international platform that, working with curators, artists, and writers, promotes forms of production starting from the local.
Between June 2021 and April 2022, twenty-nine women of the Shinan Imabo group made nearly one hundred works in different sizes and materials, such as a paintings on fabrics dyed with mahogany bark, paintings on canvas, embroidery, fabric collages, among others. As a whole, the set, from which we present a selection of here, offers an acute testimony about the community experience, the healing power of plants, solidarity among women, and the forms of collective care in a moment of emergency as a result of COVID-19. The Cantagallo community was severely affected at the beginning of the pandemic. Like many other Indigenous populations, they had to deal with the virus’s advance without access to intercultural medical care that would incorporate a health care model with an Indigenous perspective.
The works also elaborate on family bonds, histories of migration, memories of the Amazon, and the complexities of living in Lima while trying to maintain their Shipibo roots. One important protagonist is kenè – which means design –: geometric patterns created from the visions induced by plants such as ayahuasca or piri piri that also originate from the energy of Ronin’s (anaconda) skin. The pieces present us with a Shipibo vision of the world in which fish, rivers, trees, and fruits are not passive entities to be dominated, but rather active beings with their own knowledge. From this perspective, human life, nature, territory, and spiritual beings exist in a dimension of reciprocity and continuation.
This exhibition offers a different way of understanding the recent social emergency and accompanies the struggles of the Shipibo-Konibo people in their demands for the preservation and respect of their ancestral knowledges, for urgent action against the destruction of the Amazon, and for better living conditions for Indigenous people in Peru and everywhere.
Gala Berger, Miguel A. López and Olinda Silvano (Reshinjabe)