RIO DE JANEIRO – An exhibit that opened Thursday in the Brazilian metropolis of Rio de Janeiro is showcasing the results of an Amazon program that encourages artists and creators to reflect on nature and landscape.
The Z42 contemporary gallery, located in a large house nestled on the side of Rio de Janeiro’s emblematic Corcovado hill, is hosting the “How to Talk to Trees” exhibit, the product of an international artistic immersion program in the Amazon rainforest that has been promoted in recent years by the non-governmental organization Labverde.
A program financed by international partners such as University of the Arts London, Labverde periodically selects 30 artists from different countries and provides them lodging for 10 days at an environmental reserve run by Brazil’s state-run National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA).
During their stay, the artists are encouraged to create works that explore the connection between science, art and the natural environment.
Artists are invited via a selection process “to take part in an immersion (experience) in the rainforest,” the coordinator and curator of the Labverde program, Lilian Fraiji, told EFE.
“They receive information from scientists and undergo an environmental experience so that they can resignify it through culture,” she added.
The artists are lodged at the scientific headquarters of the Adolpho Ducke Forest Reserve, where 10,000 hectares (24.700 acres) of primary rainforest are dedicated to scientific research.
They attend talks given by INPA scientists about the Amazon ecosystem, its importance in mitigating climate change and the harmful impact of deforestation.
The artists also take part in conferences and debates with guests in the cultural sphere and go on expeditions in the rainforest, including a three-day boat trip that provides them with access to coastal communities and aquatic ecosystems.
A total of 342 artists applied for a place in this year’s program, which will be held in August.
Each would-be participant presented a preview of the work they intend to start developing during their stay; if selected, they are to bring a portion of the materials they plan to use.
They later will have three months to present their finished work, which will be included in special catalogs or promoted in regional exhibitions like one held in New York in 2018.
The exhibit that opened Thursday in Rio de Janeiro and will run through June 28, meanwhile, features the work of 20 past participants and recaps the results of six previous art immersion programs dating back to 2013, when four Brazilians took part in the inaugural Labverde.
“This exhibit is an overview of the Labverde experience. There are artists who participated in the first edition of the program, which was an embryo that has already sprouted. We have artists of several nationalities who went through the program and several languages (disciplines): painting, sculpture, installations, music, soundscapes and various discussions,” Fraiji said.
The works on display include ones by Brazilian artist Rodrigo Braga, who participated in the pilot project in 2013; Cuba’s Bianca Lee Vazquez; Italy’s Fabian Albertini; Chile’s Lorenzo Moya; and Mozambique’s Pedro Vaz.
American Lisa Schonberg, who has participated in three editions of Labverde, has presented in Rio five percussion-based compositions inspired by the sounds of Amazon ants.
Schonberg, who made her discovery thanks to the help of highly sensitive microphones, also is collaborating with scientists on a research project on how these insects communicate through sound.
“During the immersion, we establish direct contact with nature and interact with artists and scientists. Over 10 days, while experiencing the reality of the rainforest, I developed several projects, some related to the landscape but others to the ideas of scientists,” Brazilian painter Renata Padovan told EFE.
“I’d definitely repeat the experience because the stay is very intense and it’s not possible to absorb in such a short period of time all the knowledge conveyed by the scientists and other artists. It was a very rich and rewarding time,” Brazilian visual artist Claudia Tavares said.