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Pedagogies of the secret: revitalizing Mother Earth

Published onNov 01, 2022
Pedagogies of the secret: revitalizing Mother Earth

A kind of spiritual practice

While we were in Colombia, in the beginning of 2020, we got offered a gift. At that time, we were launching the academic program Las Alianzas Esquizo-Chamánicas at the Universidad Autónoma Indígena Intercultural, consisting of a series of seminars at the crossing boundaries of contemporary art, philosophy, and traditional medicines. The gift was made to us by THE’ WALA’S, the group of traditional doctors at the university composed of ten wise medicine women and men. The gift was a plant of coca to sow at home.

We bought a flower pot big enough to sow our plant that very night. Since that moment, we adopted the practice of leaving the plant in the courtyard of the house, absorbing sun and rain all day. By night, we took the plant to stay with us next to our bed. We started sleeping with the plant.

In that process we understood that it was not the same to place the plant at the left or at the right side of the bed, nor in front or behind.

We established a special link and we designed masks to sleep with the plant. The masks were sewed with "cabuya", which is a knitting created from "fique" plants, used to combat evil spirits in the rituals of NASA communities. We started a conversation where artifacts that carried plants as constituents became a form in themselves.

Dreams and masks

Back in France in 2022, one night we had a special dream. We were walking in the courtyard of our house in Colombia -where the plant currently is- and, suddenly, as we entered the place; the plant started to transform into something else than itself.

Some elders have told us that it is the interior being of the plant. It was this incredible alien form, moving its tentacular tongues in black and orange, and its blue body. It was only at this eternal image that we were staring for hours and hours. The masks that we used in our performances and videos come from that form, from that dream. Each of the tongues of the masks were filled up with coca leaves inside.

We make two kinds of masks, one out of organic fabrics and another out of industrial fabrics. The inner plant suits differently depending on the fabric used. We usually employ industrial knitting when we perform in urban contexts, different than when we do it in Indigenous lands.

This is like the difference between the anthropologist mask and the mask related to the plant, which are two different worlds to inquiry, to weave, and to intertwine.

Connecting spaces through lakes

"Pedagogies of the secret" is a work that was presented at Cité Internationale des Arts, on the occasion of ‘Les rencontres ArTeC’ (October 2022). It deals precisely with putting in relation epistemologies of Abya-Yala and an inquiry into pluriverses of French territory. In this specific case, we established a connection starting from lakes.

This work initiated with conversations between us and the traditional wise women and men from the Consejo de Mayores at Universidad Autónoma Indígena Intercultural del Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca (CRIC).

Months before the visit to Paris of the CRIC delegation, we were exchanging constantly with Luis Yunda, the THE’ WALA (traditional doctor in nasa yuwe) from the NASA community, in Cauca. Together, we observed the importance of "paving the way" to the visit of the delegation to France.

In this way, we identified a lake zone in the French Alps, especially the Nine Colors Lake, where we moved to connect spaces between Colombia and France based on the pedagogic practices of the program "revitalizing mother earth".

For us, this project is a starting point for new conversations. More than exploring new methodologies, it opens possibilities to rethink a new academia to come.

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