Marjetica Potrč, “Indigenous Knowledge” at NORDENHAKE [SE]
Stockholm, May 19th – June 23rd, 2016
Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrč is known for case study architectural structures, exhibited as installation and sculpture, diagrammatic works on paper and large scale collaborative on-site projects, often dealing with and within the urban fabric. Her multi-disciplinary practice incorporates the fields of art, architecture, anthropology, ecology, sustainability and other social sciences. In her work Potrč emphasises and celebrates self-reliance and individual empowerment, problem-solving and strategies for the future.
In this exhibition Potrč focuses on the theme of Indigenous Knowledge in a series of works on paper and experimental prototypes and utilitarian objects titled Power Tools. Much of the material comes out of research the artist made in the isolated Croa River community in the Brazilian state of Acre, Amazonia. The area of about eighty thousand hectares of Amazonian forest, inhabited by approximately four hundred families, is an extraction reserve, a new territory defined by cultural identity, self-organisation, sustainable growth, and local knowledge. In short, such new territories suggest forms of living together that transcend neoliberalism and its understanding of individualism, liberal democracy, and market capitalism and can inform alternative perspectives to current discussions around federalism and the EU.
Potrč points to the importance of exchange of knowledge between indigenous communities and Western theorists and scientists – the rural and the urban knowledge – in order to develop a sustainable human relationship with nature in the Anthropocene age. The exhibition draws on The School of the Forest project organised by Potrč at the PAMM Pérez Art Museum Miami (2015), where anthropologists discussed the contribution of indigenous knowledge and practices to the new culture of urban living. The drawings reference new social agreements, such as the Right to the City, popular movements and Florestania citizenship, a new citizenship of the people of the forest in the state of Acre, based on values such as the cultivation of small-scale economies, the preservation of local knowledge, and control over their land. In the works Potrč draws parallels between the indigenous communities in Amazonia and the socio-political organisation of the Sami – the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia.
Florestania, a series of 12 ink on paper drawings, represents a key work in the artist’s oeuvre. The drawing narrative describes the Croa community’s practices, identity, independence and interconnectedness with their neighbours and the world. The Earth Drawings, new works on paper, are diagrams that indicate the relationships and interconnectedness between places and ideas, originating from the extensive period Potrč stayed in Amazonia and learned from the communities who live there.
The Power Tools series are composed of experimental prototypes and readymade utilitarian objects that manifest aspects of self-reliance and independence, in both rural and urban contexts. They combine objects from indigenous cultures, such as Amazonian baskets, and gadgets equipped with advanced technologies used by urban migrants and as survival gear in Swedish wilderness.
Images courtesy of Gallery and the Artist