Friday, May 27, 2011

Trash Transformed by Indigenous Culture

I am in awe of this amazing weaving technique they have developed to transform junk food wrappers into bags and useful items here in the villages. There is rich artistic potential here for a collaboration between an international artist and the native community.

Traveling in developing countries I've always been flabbergasted by the litter that contaminates the beautiful landscapes. In Canada, growing up, we were deeply instilled with "Put Litter in it's Place" And so, we learned at the earliest age, that wrappers go in the garbage can, and that cans and bottles go in the blue recycling books.

Here and in so many developing countries trash and litter is everywhere. Why? The reasons are manifold-- lack of education, lack of disposal and recycling resources and an abundance of massive marketing pressure to consume the corporate manufactured foods.

In places like Natonin, traditional foods and their "packaging" were always completely biodegradable. You can chuck a banana leaf wrapper or an orange peel into the ditch no problemo. The concept of garbage is completely foreign. In fact the word in their language, is foreign. 'Basura' (from the Spanish).

Yet, this weaving technique, using the old ways, reclaims the irresponsible corporate trash and creates something startlingly beautiful.

Here you can see my new little bag. It is made by friend Brenda in Natonin. Her weaving uses Coke bottle wrappers to make repeating patterns and colours!

Its an awesome pratical example of what we did with the Omen-Lahe Mandala of transforming trash with indegenuous culture back into something beautiful. Her's is both useful and beautiful!

Just as the First Nations back in the Canadian prairies woukd use every sinew of a slain buffalo, now too the packaging can be reclaimed from the corporations to make something beautiful, useful and... Saleable!

I am scheming with Brenda to do a series of large "paintings" in this way. They would essentially be rectangular "canvases" made of the colourful metalic weaving. We would focus on simple designs with a striking colour scheme that portrays one of the village native symbols.

As Marshall McCluan says "The Medium is the Message".

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