In July and August of 2017, Alves interviewed 34 agroforestry agents who are members of AMAAIAC in Acre, Brazil. AMAAIAC’s mandate is to preserve forested areas on Indigenous lands and provide training for more efficient agro-forestry methods, particularly for areas which have been heavily deforested and destroyed by settlers. The forest agents are elected by their community and are responsible through community consensus for managing reforestation, sustainable farming, overseeing animal life, the protection of water sources, environmental education programmes, promoting biodiversity of fauna and flora and caring for archaeological sites.
Some of the reservations, particularly those where major highways were planned to deliberately divide up reservations lands, have continuous problems and there AMAAIAC agents have the added task of protecting the land from the destruction of gold miners, cattle ranchers, hunters, loggers, monoculture plantations and settlers. The forest agents are not recognised by the Brazilian government and receive no regular income for their labour, and yet they are the front line for ensuring the possibility that Brazil and the larger world might have a future. As Poá Katukina, the president of AMAAIAC, says, “We have dedicated ourselves to seeing that the forest stands.”
The film available here is an interview with AMAAIAC member Poã Katukina and Nawa Sharu. Presented as part of Serpentine’s Back to Earth project.
About the artist
Maria Thereza Alves (Brazil, 1961) has participated in the Toronto Biennale, Manifesta 12 and 7, the 32nd and 29th São Paulo Biennale, the Sharjah Biennale and in dOCUMENTA (13). She has had a solo exhibit at MUAC in Mexico City and a survey exhibit at CAAC in Seville. Alves will be participating in the upcoming Sydney Biennale. Alves is the recipient of the Vera List Prize for Art and Politics 2016-2018. In 1978, as a member of the International Indian Treaty Council, Alves made an official presentation of human rights abuses of the indigenous population of Brazil at the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva. Alves was one of the founding members of the Green Party of Sao Paulo in 1987. Her book, Recipes for Survival has recently been published by University of Texas Press.