Text: Ka'a Body by Sandra Benites and Anita Ekman

  • Ka'a Body, Cosmovision of the Rainforest
    Anita Ekman, with Sandra Nanayna, Ocre – Pele e Pedra (Ochre—Skin and Rock), 2019, photographic print on amate paper; courtesy the artist and Paradise Row Projects

    Ka'a Body

    Cosmovision of the Rainforest

    Ka’a means, in Guarani, leaf, herbs that heal. Ka ́a guy, forest. The forest has her composition of these infinite connections, the grandiose diversity of life. The arts created by the people of the forest seek to translate the relations between the Yvy Pory – the Earth Beings (humans and non-humans).



    With the curation of indigenous anthropologist Sandra Benites (Guarani Nhandeva) and the curatorial assistance of Anita Ekman (Brazilian visual artist and performer), the artworks gathered into this exhibition express the different forms of worldview by indigenous people, of expressing their understandings, their millenary wisdoms, stating their forms of being in the world, which are inseparable from the forest. As the leaf (ka’a) is part of the forest (Ka ́a guy), so is the body part of this world, of this universe as a whole, of humans and non- humans. Thus, this exhibition is thought of as a translation of this body-territory, a way to enable the establishment of a dialogue between the indigenous and non-indigenous on the history of the forests and bodies.

  • According to curator Sandra Benites, art is the true search for the Nhemonguetá (the true dialogue). Through art the nhemongueta porãrã, the conversation encounter, a future dialogue for well-being is established, for the good living, for the good dialogue, which brings more harmony to the world. It is the Nhemonguetá (the true dialogue) that brings forth healing – open to the other possibilities of existence, of encounters. Why then are we launching this exhibition? Because we believe that it will open itself to this Nhemonguetá. It is through the Nhemonguetá that art creates a space of exchange with the other, which is very important in this moment, because the indigenous peoples are not isolated. We indigenous are in the world and need to be seen as protagonists within it.



    If the world is as it is today, it can on the one hand be understood as the legacy from the history of colonial usurpation of bodies and forests (such as the gold extracted from the Atlantic Rainforest by means of slave labor of the Guarani indigenous people and Africans, and which served as a basis for the entailing emergence of the capitalist system in England); on the other hand, it also begs to be regarded as a result of the struggle of the peoples who resisted and yet today are bravely resisting within these forests. Furthermore, in the last five centuries these peoples have struggled not only for the survival of their own cultures but also for the continuity of the diversity of all forms of life that compose this territory. Therefore, it is necessary and urgent for the world to acknowledge the different ways that indigenous peoples perceive this body-territory of forests so that this web of diversities of life forms is maintained. It is necessary that the cosmovisions of indigenous peoples can be felt as the beating heart of an ancestral wisdom holding sacred teachings on how to live in balance among all Beings on Earth.



    Thus, it is the artists gathered around this exhibition (indigenous artists and their collaborators) who attempt through their artworks to translate views and open a dialogue with those that do not know the forests, their people, and not even the shared history between bodies and our continents (South America and Europe). It is the artists encompassed within this exhibition who will break the disquieting silence of us women and the peoples of the forest in a clamor of echoes in resonance with these centuries of resistance against the destruction of this body-territory. Indigenous artists do not make art for art’s sake; everything is struggle, a struggle for dialogue and for visibility, a struggle that also is a dance blended into the singing of birds. And this is the big question posed by this exhibition, the translation of these worlds, the expression of the people of the forest, of cosmo-perceptions, of our struggles within these sacred spaces – in the preset example, the Amazon Forest, the Atlantic Rainforest, and the Caatinga – that hold the most abundant diversity of life forms on the planet Earth.1


    Nhemonguetá is the encounter of the Guarani Nhe’é – meaning word, spirit, being...– with nhomo, which designates the whole as the interpenetration of one and the other. Through work, dance, and chants, the relationship of deep exchange happens. That is why this encounter through art is so important, since it brings forth more harmony. We know that the encounter of Europeans with the Indigenous people was originally marked by conflict, grounded on non-understanding on the side of Europeans of the true meaning of the forest and her peoples. Fortunately, however, these conflicting stances can subside and become harmonious and sacred when encounters like the one we propose for this exhibition occur.



    The encounter becomes sacred through this Nhemonguetá, as it embraces within hendu, which means feeling and also listening. This experience, through which one awakens with sharpened listening sensitivity, and increases their admiration, the mboravy opa, the great love. It is through this conversation that we collect love from the other, this respect for the trajectory of the other, this great love for the other is the possibility of respecting the limitations of the other, understanding up to which point we can advance, and how to respect what is the other. This other can be another culture, but also another form of life. This is the great teaching of the Yvy Pory, the Earth beings. We are Yvy Pory, we all are. Hence, this exhibition is like an alert on our forests, the Atlantic Rainforest, the Amazon Rainforest, and equally the Caatinga, which is a type of forest that only exists in Brazil. It is an urgent alert that makes us understand how we are part of these Earth beings, how much of us is this forest, and how it can help us to see how we are going to take a tape (path) and build this future Tenondé (first experience) that can only exist if we all walk together, fully ensuring this forest is kept alive. May these artworks transform into seed sown which will yield fruits. It is a tangible possibility to replant the forest tenfold – if we only think of Her. The future of our body-territory depends on this. We must unite while humans and non-humans as Yvi pory in order that we can respect each other’s specificities. For this, listening is required, and so are encounters – as the one celebrated in this gallery – to unite our experiences, to add together to our creative work like bodies dancing in pair.




    1 Brazil is known to hold the most abundant wealth of plants in the world (46,097 species, of which 43% endemic). This immense biodiversity is located mainly within the forests that compose the Brazilian territory, which are the result of indigenous people millennial environmental husbandry. Recent studies suggest that 60% of the Amazon is anthropogenic, which means to say that the largest tropical forest on the planet was planted, cultivated, and intensively managed by indigenous hands and minds.