Lilian Fraiji (BR)

October 27 – 19:00 CET

Online Encounter / October 27 – 19:00 CET (Central European Time)
Moderation: Bianca Mendonça and Korina Kordova

The online encounter

Our second online encounter was focused on a dialog with the curator and visual artist Lilian Fraiji (BR) . This dialog travels among interests and practices around the Amazonian landscape, South American Indigenous cosmologies, non-anthropocentric perspectives, and embodied knowledge.

More information about the series of online encounters

The participants

Lilian Fraiji is a curator, a producer and an environment activist based in the Amazon, Brazil. She is specialist in Cultural Management from Barcelona University and has a Master’s degree in Curating Arts from the University of Ramon Llull, Barcelona. She is the co-founder of LABVERDE, a platform dedicated to the development of multidisciplinary content involving art, science, traditional knowledge and ecology. As an independent researcher, she is interested in how culture is related to nature and how language is related to the Anthropocene. She has curated several art exhibitions involving Ecology, including “Invisible Landscape” (Stand4 Gallery – NYC – 2018), “Irreversível” (Paiol da Cultura/INPA, Manaus 2019) and “How to talk with trees” (Galeria Z42-Rio de Janeiro-2019). She’s also been the guest curator for Rock in Rio Amazon and grantee of Serrapilheira Program Art and Science. Currently she is the curator of Labverde plataform, responsible for the coordination of international projects and collaborating with Se Rasgum Festival, Cab Patagonia Residency and University of the Arts London.


photo taken from (2019 catalog, free download)

In our 2nd encounter, unfortunately, one of our guests was unable to join us. Since Martha Hincapié Charry could not be present, the encounter was an open conversation between Lilian Fraiji, Korina Kordova, Bianca Mendonça, Lena Peters and the spectators. 

Lilian Fraiji speaks to us directly from Manaus, located in the heart of the Amazon region in Brazil and lets us into her thoughts about the relationship between environment and its inhabitants, human and non-human, artists and politics. Living in a region highly hit by multiple genocides over the last centuries and ongoing discrimination and exploitation, she tells us about the organisation LABVERDE and her own interest in learning about the importance of language as an ever developing technology in a socio-political context. Language is a way to approach and communicate with Indigenous people, talk about the history of the country, as well as about the complexity of the Amazon Forest.

“The apocalypse started many, many years ago(…). The Amazon for me is a survivor, it’s a body, a natural body landscape that is resisting and surviving. So when I think of all these aspects, it’s almost incredible that it still exists! How is it possible?” (Bianca Mendonça)

“The apocalypse happened here more than 500 years ago when the Europeans arrived, when the Portuguese arrived. Then we have this huge genocide, that we tend to forget. And there is always happening the same thing over and over again. The genocide again. We had a meeting the other day and we were trying to understand the history of the Amazon and the history of these encounters between Portuguese and the Native people. And in the Amazon you can see that it’s the same procedure, the same way of doing so, it’s the same genocide, the same methods that happened more than 500 years ago happened in the dictatorship in the 70’s(…).” (Lilian Fraiji)

“So we already know that many got extinct. And now with the pandemic we live the exact same thing as we lived in the 70ies. It was also with a disease, but why here in the Amazon or in Manaus, where in one state is concentrated the biggest population of Ethnics and Indigenous population in Brasil. (…) Why was Manaus the worst city of the pandemic in Brasil? This was already written in the history, this is a genocide, this was planned, this is a programmation. We are not supposed to be here in Manaus, to live here, we are supposed to be killed!” (Lilian Fraiji)

photo taken from (2019 catalog, free download)

““It is no surprise that one of the richest humans on earth, and the most exploitative predatory company, took the name Amazon, and is based in consumption and exploitation of nature and workers.” (Lisa Schonberg, audience)

“Amazon is in the past. We have to name it in a different way, actually develop our language and our lexikon to try to name the differences inside of the Amazon. The different people, the different cultures, the different regions and leave the Amazon, this name, for this company. Let’s learn (about) the diversity and let’s use other names, you know?”

“When we deal with culture, we deal with different types of language. I think it is our duty to understand that we have to signify Amazon in a different way. We really have to represent Amazon as this whole plurality that exists in the Amazon. Amazon is very complex. We really have to approach in terms of language this complexity.”

“Practically (we have) to develop language to understand this possibility of existence, and I mean Indigenous existence, Indigenous knowledge, but also non-human existence, because we also have to understand, that non-humans have memory, non-humans have intelligence, non-humans have history. A very long history which is longer than ours. We are claiming that also non-humans have rights. So how can we also learn with the non-humans, how can we also translate their language and be able to communicate?” (Lilian Fraiji)

photos taken from (2019 catalog, free download)

photo taken from (2019 catalog, free download)

“What can happen to somebody that actually goes to a place and just stays there and listens?” (Korina Kordova)

Lilian Fraiji, LABVERDE

“Just in my state we have 56 different Indigenous communities. We have 29 different languages.(…) It’s important to mention, just to give you the scale of this gigantic place, but the Amazon is part of nine different countries in South America.(…) I don’t know how many (Indigenous) people exist in the Amazon, but I heard 250 different Indigenous people. I don’t know how many languages, but I think perhaps hundreds of different languages in the Amazon.”

“So in LABVERDE, we can just talk about a very small part of the Amazon. We are here located in Manaus. Manaus is a city near the biggest water basin in the North. Due to that, we have different aquatic ecosystems and here we have like three or four different types of rain forests. We have the rain forest of (the city of) Campinas, that’s smaller, it is like the one here behind me (pointing out the window behind her back where you can see the outside vegetation). We have this idealistic version of a rain forest that is like this river, like a serpent crossing the forest. (…) When we think about the Amazon, we think like this: big trees, huge trees, we also have that, but this is a very small part of the rain forest.”

“What we do here at LABVERDE is that we connect the institutions of investigations, the research institutions. So we have two collaborations: we collaborate with the School of Anthropology, full of Indigenous intellectuals from many different kinds of Indigenous communities and cosmologies, one totally different from the other. And we also collaborate with the National Institue of Amazonian Research and with their team of scientists. So we tried to combine different sets of knowledge to investigate language(…)” (Lilian Fraiji)

photo taken from (2019 catalog, free download)

“LABVERDE brings a lot of people from outside (foreign people) to do residences, right? I am very curious how the vibrations of this place revibrate when people from complete another context come inside?(…) (Bianca Mendonça)

“There is a friction, a tension. Because I’m saying, oh, it’s beautiful, we put everybody together… it’s very “romantic”. I hear myself and it seems very romantic. But to be honest, to be true, this is a tense situation because we are bringing Europeans, Indigenous, artists and scientists (together). There is this friction between disciplines, which is very important that it exists. In Europe, I think, things are more democratic in terms of disciplines, but I think here, to put a scientist together to collaborate with an artist is something that is not easy. It’s coming with a lot of tension because we have a memory where disciplines are hierarchical. And then we have the layer of colonialism. And then we have the layer of history and the layer of past movements of genocides, that is really important for us to discuss.” (Lilian Fraiji)

“Thank you all for these inspiring insights. I just had to think of the artist and activist who is posting under the name Bundaskanzlerin on Instagram in a German-Swiss context, but is an immigrant from Brazil. She posted a meme a couple of weeks ago that is phrasing these really radical stands saying “don’t confuse your working towards decolonisation if your work isn’t leading to reparations and handing back country to the people who lived there before colonisation”. And maybe we don’t have to take radical stands like this, but it led me to a question to all four of you, which is: what wishes and hopes each one of you has for the role of the arts in the specific context that you are working in to foster new relationships to the Amazon or to shake up the relationships that we have at the moment. What would you like to see happening in the closer future?” (Valerie Wehrens, audience)

“I again came to this topic of language, which Lilian has mentioned a few times. So Bianca mentioned the Amazon not being an untouchable place. That it is a place that should be touched or can be touched. And Korina talked about digging, in the sense of digging to find out about something. But now I’m also wondering if these words, like “touch” and “dig”, as for me in this context they are also very connected to colonisation and exploitation, like someone goes there and touches land and digs (…). So I was wondering, Lilian, if you from LABVERDEs perspective, can you say that if foreign artists or foreign people come to you and start touching and digging, can this happen from a respectful place? Do you have the feeling they come and are aware that this action needs to happen in a respectful way?” (Lena Peters)

“Thank you for the interesting, profound and touching presentation. I also hope that Lula will win the election and that the situation in Brazil will improve so that the wave motion goes upwards. What is happening in the Amazon affects everyone, because we live on one planet and we all have to contribute to preserving our common living space and not destroying it.” (Eve Hefter, audience)

Click here for the full length video recording of the online encounter with Lilian Fraiji.

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