.....................................................................................
MAGGIE PUCKETT
...................................................................... ......................................................................
......................................................................
home
artist statement
cv
contact

Born 1981, Long Beach, California, USA
Lives and works in Chicago, Illinois, USA

Through handmade paper, artist’s books, and environmental works my practice navigates our planet from atmosphere to core, examining ecological history and visualizing predictions of future global change. Read More

.....................................................................................
JOIN MY EMAIL LIST
.....................................................................................
CONTACT
.....................................................................................

phytopaper
The Indigenous

BODY OF WORK

Indigenous Unite!
2013
handmade paper

Indigenous Unite! is a collection of portraits and landscapes that explore the effects of oil drilling, mining, logging, hydroelectric projects, and industrial agriculture on indigenous communities in the Amazon rainforest.

This body of work is a meditation on the concept of indigenous resistance in the face of multinational corporations and the governments that support their ill-regulated exploits. As Roberto Perez, a leader of the Colombian U’Wa tribe, states, “We will not die on our knees but rather on our feet. We are willing to die in defense of our territory, because it is the only alternative left to us.”* To give one’s life for such a cause can be considered in light of the idea of embracing failure. To live is such a powerful and innate desire, and to give life by giving up life is an action for the bravest among us. I have much respect for the many indigenous people around the world who protest, occupy, resist, dissent, and fight against the perpetrators of human rights abuses. It is my sincere hope for their actions to be successful in restoring justice to these beautiful lands.

The portraits identify four key players in the struggle: The Capitalist, The Military, The Indigenous, and The Activist.

The Capitalist is represented by a businessman of the biotech industry, preying on farmers with genetically modified seeds that require dangerous chemical use. Whether drilling for oil, mining for minerals, or degrading the soil through industrial monocultures, The Capitalist seeks only profit at the expense of the environment and the people who depend on it for existence.

The Military is the physical brute force with which The Capitalist silences its opposition. Numerous human rights abuses are perpetrated against the indigenous peoples of the world by the armed forces who fulfill the immoral wishes of their Capitalist masters.

The Indigenous is an amalgamation of different tribes and living organisms affected by the The Capitalist and The Military. The warrior represents the indigenous peoples, plants, and animals who depend on a healthy ecosystem to survive, and those of them who fight, protest, and occupy in retaliation to environmental devastation. The imagery was inspired by the indigenous tribes currently occupying and protesting the Belo Monte dam construction in Brazil.

The Activist is a portrait dedicated to all the non-indigenous allies in the struggles against ecological terror throughout the world. Inspired specifically by one such activist, Trisha Oralie Martin, who has worked with local Chicago groups to protest coal fired power plants and the dangerous air pollution they cause.

The portraits are handcut in the style of the Otomi people of Mexico. Use of a Mexican handcraft to discuss the Amazon may at first seem a peculiar choice, but it broadens the conversation from regionally-specific to global. The problems of extractive and industrial activities are a problem for indigenous people around the world.

Blood of Our Mother is inspired by a quote from Roberto Perez, “We believe that the oil is the blood of our mother Earth. It's the equilibrium of nature and the world. And [its exploitation] is an attempt against the spiritual base of our culture and against life itself – against the environment, against the flora and fauna, and against biodiversity.”* The landscape is bleak, poisoned. Here, there is no life, no sign of a healthy ecosystem.

Poisoned Waters exposes the effects of mining tailings in the Amazon river. Fish, an important part local diet, are poisoned and die. The water itself changes color from the toxic waste pumped into it. This water is not safe to drink.

Crude Understory plays on the ecological zones of the rainforest, the existence of crude oil underneath it, and, accompanied by a poem, provides some backstory to the body of work. The poem is based on the words, again, of Roberto Perez, as he gives interview to an American audience in 2001. The interview has been paired down and the fragments rearranged to correspond to the titles of the portraits in this body of work.

Indigenous Unite! (a landscape with the same name as the body of work) presents the Amazon in a possible future state, a completely toxic wasteland, devoid of life. It is surrounded by the silhouettes of indigenous people from around the world, past and present. Like spirits, they stand watch around the charred and dry amazon, bearing witness to its demise, providing a warning to all who look and see that something must be done to avoid this fate.

*Taiara, Camille T. "Dying for Oil U'wa Leader Roberto Pérez Speaks about Indigenous Resistance to the Colombian Oil Rush." The Bay Guardian [San Franscisco] 7 Feb. 2001.


Blood of Our Mother

The Military

Indigenous Unite!

Indigenous Unite! (detail)

Crude Understory

Crude Understory

Poem by Maggie Puckett based on the words of Roberto Pérez, U’wa leader, from an interview in 2001.

The Capitalist
A plan for violence,
political violence.
Directed by the government and the corporations
against the guerrillas,
against the people,
in the name of development.
It’s a Western way of thinking.
They say that you can’t oppose the exploitation of petroleum.
The threats begin.

The Military
The second invasion has arrived in the name of development.
Violence has followed those projects.
Children die and disappear.
We blocked the highway so they couldn’t access our territory.
When they arrived to evict us,
three children drowned
trying to escape
the tear gas,
the riot police.

The government never fulfills its promises.
The only options that are left us now are violence, death, and destruction.

The Indigenous
Know who they are.
They’ve been deceived.
They’ve lost their best territories,
their rivers,
their sacred lands,
their places of origin.
Now it’s all contaminated.
Now they ask for handouts on the streets.

We have our own laws.
We have our own form of government.
We believe that the oil is the blood of our mother Earth.
It’s the equilibrium of nature and the world.
What we are demanding is respect,
recognition of our culture and our identity.
We will not die on our knees
but on our feet.
We are willing to die
in defense of our territory,
it is the only alternative left.

The Activist
Solidarity is of great significance.
Accompany us in our blockades.
Recognize our autonomous identity.
Recognize our rights to our territory.
Recognize the importance of the environment.
It isn’t just our territory that’s at risk,
this is a problem that affects all.
Oil, gold, diamonds, wood,
these threaten cultures that still exist.
It is imperative that we unite.
Resistance is the only alternative.


Poisoned Water

The Capitalist

The Activist

Installed at Co-Prosperity Sphere, Chicago, 2013
 
 
 
 

...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Copyright © 2016 Maggie Puckett. All rights reserved.