Arrowhead (rahaka) (left)
Kitama (Member of the Yanomami), sketch in a sketchbook of Lothar Baumgarten, watercolour on paper, 1979 (right)
© Photo: Lothar Baumgarten and Museum Folkwang
Evening of Time- Señores Naturales Yanomami
Lothar Baumgarten in cooperation with the architect Lorenzo Piqueras. The presentation will show an ethnological collection of everyday objects, drawings, films and audio recordings which the artist put together during his 18 month stay with two Yanomami tribes in the Amazonian region and which he donated to the Museum Folkwang in 2010.
The semi-nomadic Yanomami are settled in the Venezuelan-Brazilian border region in the Sierra Parima mountain range and in the watershed of the Orinoco and Amazon tributaries Rio Negro and Rio Branco. The Yanomami, who live from agriculture, hunting and gathering, live in round settlements called sha- bono. Their daily life is composed of shaman rituals, maintaining alliances and friendships with neighboring shabonos and reciprocal visits during celebrations. The Yanomami’s situation has changed radically in the last decades; gold prospectors, farmers and epidemics have decimated the Yanomami and destroyed large parts of the rainforest, their habitat.
Lothar Baumgarten lived with the Kashorawё- und Yapitawё-theri, two Yanomami tribes, in 1978/79. During this period, Baumgarten made his sketchbooks available to the Yanonami, and for the first time they used paper and made drawings and aquarelles. The pictures they made are unique artistic, ethno- logical and art history documents. Because of this special relation of trust, the product of mutual re- spect, Baumgarten was able to film various moments in their everyday life and their rituals. These documents, together with audio recordings and photographs, are being shown in the exhibition for the very first time.
From the beginning of his work as an artist Lothar Baumgarten took as theme European treatment of other cultures. His early works presented an “imaginary South America”, dominated by the interests, desires and wishes of Western discoverers, conquerors and explorers. The 18 month stay with the Ya- nomami changed his view of the world and his art. In the exhibition Evening of Time- Señores Naturales he created a structure out his own things and things foreign whose artistic grammar and components had already been employed in his earlier works; for instance his own texts, photographs and the color- ing from Annatto seeds, important for the Yanomami and which they call urucu. The exhibition space designed in this way forms a place where we can gain access to the Yanomami culture.
Lothar Baumgarten on the effect of Western ventures on Yanomami culture: “They take their personal name away and give them one they can’t really pronounce. Large parts of their cultural universe is erased with this gesture: their name as personal identity, their houses as their idea of the world, the cuisine as expression of good taste and also as meeting place for people their surroundings, the family and parents, to which they are very close.”
The dialogue between European and Non-European cultures is of special importance for the Museum Folkwang. From the beginning, Karl Ernst Osthaus did not restrict his collecting activities to modern and contemporary art, but also included Non-European art. As early as 1912, the Folkwang was the first museum ever to present works of modern art and what was known at the time as tribal art together as witness of a world art of different kinds and times. Dr. Hartwig Fischer, Director of the Museum Folkwang: “Today we are taking up this potential, at the same time a challenge, in cooperation with artists. It should once again become a driving force for the work of the Museum Folkwang.”
The Exhibition Lothar Baumgarten. Evening of Time- Señores Naturales. Yanomami is supported by the Kunststiftung NRW and the Kulturstiftung Essen.
The exhibition is accompanied by a broad education programme.
Member of the Yanomami, photograph of 1978/79
© Photo: Lothar Baumgarten