2014, Fri, May 30

Indigenous Activism in the Americas: Andrea Tonacci’s film archive (Session 1)

Maria Thereza Alves, Jimmie Durham, Ampam Karakras, and Richard Hill

Still from Andrea Tonacci Archive | Photo © Andrea Tonacci

Still from Andrea Tonacci Archive | Photo © Andrea Tonacci

In the 1970s, Andrea Tonacci, an Italian filmmaker living in Brazil, traveled through North, Central, and South America conducting video interviews with different indigenous leaders. Each speaker addressed issues important at the time, such as the need to politicize the American Indian struggle in the United States, to achieve a strategic unity among international indigenous communities, and the need to obtain participation in the United Nations.

The recordings describe an urgent moment in the history of indigenous activism in the Americas against imperial-colonial powers and institutions. They document the struggles of individual groups while highlighting concerns shared across disparate geographies.

Following their production, the videos were housed in Tonacci’s privatearchive, unseen by the public. Artists Maria Thereza Alves and Jimmie Durham together with art historian Richard Hill reactivate this archive through a live presentation and contextualization of a selection of Tonacci’s materials. Durham, who appears in one of the recordings as a delegate to the United Nations of the International Indian Treaty Council, will revisit his own activity as political organizer. Writer and Shuar leader Ampam Karakras, also interviewed by Tonacci, will discuss past and current conditions of indigenous communities in Ecuador. What can be seen in these recordings that might not have been visible at the time of their making? How might these videos speak from the past to reenergize the contemporary moment?