Denis Rodriguez and Leonardo Remor are artists, curators, and researchers. They reflect on the Art and Nature dyad in projects that focus on rural areas, the land, and the transmission of ancestral knowledge and technologies of popular creators and the Indigenous peoples of Eastern South America. Since August 2020, they have resided in Igatu, Chapada Diamantina, Bahia, where they founded Mirante Xique-Xique, a para-institution that promotes research residencies in different areas: environment, architecture, cuisine and arts. Through cultural activities, exchanges, and environmental education, the non-governmental, non-profit organization’s mission is to safeguard the region’s architectural and intangible heritage.
As a duo, our work interrogates visible and invisible boundaries that are imposed, such as the separation between nature and culture, contemporary art and folk art, modern architecture and vernacular architecture, technology and para-technology, artist and critic, curator and researcher, authorship and collaboration—divisions, binaries that separate us from our integrity and from the complex matrix of life, where contradictory and complementary forces alternate and merge. Currently, two issues permeate our work, first, materials and materiality, and second, artistic/cultural practices and the production of work for the art system. We always take a pause before producing a new work, a sort of recognition and appreciation of the works and artists that have preceded us, and we research extensively before proposing and producing a new work: after all, why place a similar work in circulation in this world that is already saturated with objects and things? We always question ourselves regarding our actions and how other artists influence us and give life to our thoughts and desires to produce.
Over the past years, from immersions in different contexts and territories, in choosing diverse materials, mainly clay, we have tried to expand the concept of sustainability beyond the logic of consumption and productivity, in alliance with other modes of living. We have undertaken research and works that invest in a critical view of coloniality, exalting the ancestral wisdom of human relationships with nature, by means of artistic practices that guarantee the use of materials that are not harmful to life and that do not produce non-recyclable waste. Thus, we carry out actions and dialogues that result in films, photography, objects and installations that use methodologies, concepts and reflections from anthropology with the aim of questioning the western ethnography that documents, describes, or narrates cultural practices without learning from them, without recognizing this knowledge as a sustainable alternative to a world in collapse as a result of the ideas of modernity and progress.