Amazonia: The Rights of Nature

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  • March 10, 2017 - January 28, 2018
  • CURATOR: Nuno Porto
  • MOA will showcase its Amazonian collections in a significant exploration of socially and environmentally-conscious notions intrinsic to indigenous South American cultures, which have recently become innovations in International Law. These are foundational to the notions of Rights of Nature, and they have been consolidating in the nine countries that share responsibilities over the Amazonian basin. These depart from a social philosophy, known in Spanish as “buen vivir”, in which the concept of a good life proposes a holistic approach to development that intertwines notions of unity, equality, dignity, reciprocity, social and gender equality – a rallying cry to move beyond Western ideals and practices of development and progress largely measured by profit. Curated by Dr. Nuno Porto (MOA Curator, Africa and Latin America), Amazonia: The Rights of Nature will feature Amazonian works of basketry, textiles, carvings, feather works and ceramics both of everyday and of ceremonial use, representing Indigenous, Maroon and white settler communities that today articulate against the threats caused by political violence, mining, oil and gas exploration, industrial agriculture, forest fires, road building and hydroelectric plants. Challenging visitors to examine their own notions towards holistic wellbeing, the exhibition will cover more than 100 years of unsuspected relationships between Vancouver and Amazonian peoples, ideas and their struggles.

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Amazonia: The Rights of Nature

Sub-series consists of records related to the exhibition "Amazonia: The Rights of Nature," whichwas on display at the Museum of Anthropology from March 10, 2017 - January 28, 2018. Porto was the curator for this exhibition.

The exhibition was described on the Museum of Anthropology's website as follows:

"Amazonia: The Rights of Nature explores the creative ideas that inspire Indigenous resistance to threats facing the world’s largest rainforest.

The exhibition features Amazonian basketry, textiles, carvings, feather works and ceramics both of everyday and of ceremonial use, representing Indigenous, Maroon and white settler communities. Today, these groups confront threats caused by political violence, mining, oil and gas exploration, industrial agriculture, forest fires and hydroelectric plants. Challenging visitors to examine their own notions towards holistic well-being, the exhibition covers more than 100 years of unsuspected relationships between Vancouver and Amazonian peoples, ideas and their struggles.

Amazonia departs from a social philosophy, known in Spanish as “buen vivir,” in which the concept of a good life proposes a holistic approach to development that intertwines notions of unity, equality, dignity, reciprocity, social and gender equality. The concept aligns directly with value systems intrinsic to Indigenous South American cultures, and serves as a rallying cry to move beyond Western ideals and practices of development and progress largely measured by profit.

The objects displayed in Amazonia have been exclusively assembled from MOA’s collection of acquisitions and donations. Included amongst the exhibition are items from Frank Burnett’s founding collection, donated to the University of British Columbia in 1927, ensuring the exhibition spans more than 100 years of exchange between Vancouver and Amazonian peoples.

Taking over MOA’s O’Brian Gallery, the exhibit’s items are primarily composed of simple, identifiable elements: vegetal fibers, wood, animal parts, clay or feathers. These uncomplicated components are transformed into extremely sophisticated and intricate textiles, basketry, ceramics, feather works and jewelry, displaying the knowledge and craftsmanship of some of the groups who reside in the region. Taken in its entirety, the exhibition promises to offer a revealing window into one of the world’s more culturally, socially and linguistically diverse regions, as well as a new framework for addressing some of the globe’s most pressing environmental challenges."

MOA Magazine, Issue 03, Spring / Summer 2017

This issue contains articles on recent ceramic acquisitions, the Reconciliation Pole, the opening of the Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks, threats to Indigenous peoples in the Amazon, the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival, ethical shopping, the conservation and loan of a thunderbird headdress, climate change, Curator-in-Residence Jordan Wilson, and touchable objects at the museum.

MOA Magazine, Issue 04, Fall 2017

This issue contains articles on current and upcoming exhibitions, renovations, the installation of murals at BC Children's Hospital, Amazonia: The Rights of Nature and related student workshops and forensic work, a Musqueam Teaching Kit, the Native Youth Program's night sky project, the Rachel and David Herman Collection of Byzantine Coins, the Museum of Lisbon exhibition From Carnival to Lucha Libre: Mexican Masks and Devotions, In a Different Light: Reflecting on Northwest Coast Art, The Fabric of Our Land: Salish Weaving, the MOA Journey to Papua New Guinea, and an interview with April Liu, Curator of Public Programs + Engagement.