‘Chamada From Chico Mendes’ – an Enviro-Carnival Installation (the original project description)

[ this page is archived – the updated page is at www.metaceptive.net/chamada ]

An Interactive Digital Carnival Installation connecting with environmental activism and climate justice.  To be created by artist Kooj Chuhan and driven by an open call for contributions of video, images, poetry, sounds, and anything that could work with the theme.

ChamadaFromChicoMendes - Interactive Digital Carnival Installation connecting with environmental activism

To view the OPEN CALL – please click HERE .  DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please contact us by October 31st 2014 to express your interest.

The artist Kooj Chuhan (UK / India) is creating an interactive digital art installation connecting Brazilian environmentalist Chico Mendes with environmental justice issues across the world. It will be made from audio and visual material from many people and it will use interactive objects and projections that visitors can actually ‘play’ like percussion. With strong influences from Afro-Brazilian culture it is an ‘Enviro-Carnival Installation’.

The exhibition will take place February 28th – March 21st 2015 at a new Carnival Arts Centre in Manchester (UK), run by Global Grooves.  We then intend to tour this installation to different galleries, exhibition venues and also public places including at carnival events.

What is the installation about?

The exhibition’s starting point is the powerful story of Chico Mendes, who was a Brazilian rubber tapper, trade union leader and environmentalist committed to protecting the Amazon’s ecosystem. He had opposition from industrialists and corrupt government officials, was jailed, fined and threatened, and just over 25 years ago he was eventually murdered but has now become a national hero in Brazil.

There is so much around us to do with our environment, how we consume things, how people try and change things, and how big businesses get in the way. Chico’s story is universal, so the installation wants to show material from different people about other ways that these kinds of things happen in different parts of the world. We are especially interested in indigenous rights and issues for poorer communities.  The exhibition will be called “Chamada From Chico Mendes” (“Chamada” means “a call to all” in Portuguese).

This is a video art project that links carnival vibes with environmental campaigns, driven by people and groups from different places.  Read more about Chico Mendes: www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/20/brazil-salutes-chico-mendes-25-years-after-murder .

There will be posts about this work on the blog as the project develops, and there is an Open Call to any Film-makers or Video Artists, or anyone with images or footage to contribute, at www.metaceptive.net/chamada-open-call .  The way to contact us about the project if you are interested to get involved is via the form at www.metaceptive.net/chamada-contact .

There is also a special invitation to members of the Future Leaders carnival arts training programme by Global Grooves, who can use the same contact form above.

A project by Kooj Chuhan & Metaceptive in partnership with Global Grooves, with support from Arts Council of England and Youth Music.

ACE logo    Youth_Music_logo
global-grooves-logo_withMargin       metaceptiveLogo14p+m_2li_print_s


In brief, the original aim was:

To create an interactive single-screen installation with 20 youth musician participants from across England, in collaboration with members of Global Grooves, and involving multi-sourced imagery from an international open call. The theme will explore democratic collaborative culture from carnival to digital. The installation will use Isadora software allowing on-screen video and animation to respond to movement and audio signals in the room, as well as specific percussion and musical instrument triggers. To be exhibited over four weeks at Vale Mill (Mossley, Tameside), including a special live digital concert event linked via internet with Brazil.

Here are some early notes in developing this project; most likely they will have all changed by the time you are reading this, but they give an indication of how I entered into this process:

Intention and starting concept.

I am interested to take certain key ideas about what drove Afro-Brazilian carnival to develop, and see if we can apply them to a digital art project which will create an installation, and which can allow people from different global geographies to participate in. I would like it to maintain a special link to Brazil which has inspired the concept, but to also reach much wider and not be at all exclusive to Brazil – maybe like having a Brazilian source to set a starting rhythm to which anybody can the add to and re-shape its direction.

From the negative experience of trans-Atlantic slavery, a positive cultural and social art form was formed. The modern world is rife with areas of conflict, which is closely a broad and global parallel to the era of trans-Atlantic slavery. However, those of us that do not experience this conflict find it hard to identify with people that do, even if we can and do empathise and give support. One thing that we all experience is environmental degradation and the effects of climate change, and in many cases this is a part of many conflicts around the world.

So, I propose to look specifically at examples where conflict and climate collide, providing all of us with a route into global issues in which we can also see a direct link to ourselves, and from which we need to create a resilient culture of positive action. I have chosen six environmental activists from different parts of the world who have been internationally recognised to varying degrees (incl a Nobel Peace Prize), three of whom were murdered for their beliefs and activism. This is strong and emotive stuff, but also stuff that few people would not support. It’s a later route to deeper and more difficult issues that may introduce disagreements, but at the outset these issues can only generate support, positivity and solidarity.

The six figures are (currently):
Activists murdered by reactionary corporate/government-backed forces
Chico Mendes (Brazil) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chico_Mendes
Ken Saro-Wiwa (Nigeria) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Saro-Wiwa
Amit Jethwa (India) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amit_Jethwa
Significant (women) activists who cross over with wider issues of social justice and colonialism
Wangari Maathai (Kenya) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wangari_Maathai
Syeda Rizwana Hasan (Bangladesh) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rizwana_Hasan
Waziyatawin (Canada – indigenous) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waziyatawin

Early notes on how the installation might look and other possibilities

Physical space
This contains selected objects that have become throw-away in the UK (junk, old clothes, …), the space is like a museum of these objects with each on a plinth? Or vertical stand? This can itself be ‘played’ by hitting/tapping/slapping it, and doing so will change the projected imagery and sound. Each has a museum label (some bloodstained or sweated on) telling you where it is from, but in emotional language – the words of a child or mother or labourer who made it, adapted from real voices). There are 2 projection screens either side of this space.

I am thinking to suggest a visual split between carnival boldness (left) and documentary (right), yet audio is a full montage of voices against rhythms, OR possibly a different design a bit like my installation From Punjab To Football https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNWVkKYAPRI but more layered, poss 3 horizontal squares on each screen with text areas above and below? 3 horizontal squares can change to single horizontal video sometimes?

Each screen has easy to navigate objects in the physical space to trigger different sounds.

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