IR Project With Colombian Rebel Youth
The dubversive joy and focus of IR has been in the hidden creative process,working away in the shadows, away from media glare to create lyrical and musical awareness. The real dub joy has been in having some dub creative studio sessions where creativity and forthright expression have been the only concerns,focusing on the creation of video and community art projects like the creation of giant murals in public spaces.This joy also stems from has been sharing knowledge, improvising…encouraging others to take things further and been inspired when they do …working in trust with people … being inspired by and feeling a responsibility for new dub children that have come into this world. Showing by actual example that things can take place in an organic, self-sufficient way and that they do not have to be organised by an ngo (non governmental agency) or indeed by the government…. So the latest IR project done in Colombia..was truly dub for us. Working with the Rebel youth there…. painting the walls to circumvent some of the artificial restraints set up by the system especially in regards to images shown. Comments by onlookers confirmed some of our intentions behind the use of certain images on the wall.
You can enjoy larger and more pictures from this project by going to the IR Indigenous Resistance Tumbir page here
One passerby looked at the image of Janine ” Jah 9″ Cunningham and remarked ” I always see images of Rasta men on walls but this is the first time I see a black Rasta woman with dreadlocks painted here in Colombia”
An indigenous man who follows Rastafarian faith and who has made a real effort to study Rastafari and African history was amazed to see the quote from Dutty Bookman that referenced Marcus Garvey. He said ‘ You know I always wanted to see Marcus Garvey mentioned on Colombian walls because when he was alive he came to Colombia and he is someone with such important ideas. But I never see him mentioned in graffiti here. “. and then he said to us ” In Colombia there is so much discrimination towards black people .So many people don’t even associate black people with writing books. To be honest I cant believe you manage to paint a quote from a black writer, on top of that a black author with dreadlocks, with a quote referring to Marcus Garvey and its right at the entrance of a school; so its the first thing students see when they enter. The students see an image of a Rasta man talking about the importance of reading and the importance of knowledge, it is showing the black people in a different way to the children.”.. Well his words had a prophetic ring to them .later on as the final letters of the Dutty Bookman quote were being painted on the wall…. a group of young students about to enter the school gathered fascinated to watch the painting and in a very dub moment they all started reading aloud the excerpt from ‘Tried and True’. A very powerful moment!
Then there was the dreadlocks woman from Argentina whose mother is an indigenous woman from Peru .She stood staring transfixed at the image of Franz Fanon in the mural and then said ‘ You know the introduction to his book “Wretched Of The Earth “is one of the most amazing things I have read in my life but I never imagine I would see this on a wall ”
Besides the current IR mural is another IR mural that Chite Yarumo painted two years ago…one of the scenes depicts an indigenous woman with a megaphone leading a demonstration and being part of a nationwide protest march that took place in Colombia called the ‘ La Minga Indigenia’. At the moment the current mural was being painted there was a big indigenous protest and standoff with the government in Cauca.Many believe government military forces there were actually part of an overall government plan to control the rich resources and farmlands of the territory occupied by indigenous people so they could later on be sold to the highest corporate bidder. Members of the group F.A.R.C who were waging an insurgency movement against the government were also simultaneously in the indigenous territory, selling narcotics to ‘ bankroll ‘ their struggle. Indigenous people were getting involved in the cocaine trade and it was starting to erode their communities. Finally the indigenous people got fed up and decided that they wanted to be left alone and live in peace and started expelling both the government forces and the F.A.R.C from their territory. Of course since alot was a stake, their actions caused immense repercussions… One passerby who was explaining this to us complained angrily to us about how the mainstream media in Colombia were portraying the protesting indigenous people ” they show them like they are animals, they don’t explain what’s really happening” at the moment she said this ,a small colorful bus with some activists drove by with a woman singing songs of support for the indigenous people of Cauca to the cheers of all the people who were around.
Besides the image of Jah 9 we painted a quote from Douglas Cardinal. Translated it means ” We almost have to reinvent a language that shows respect for women. As men if we walked in their shoes for a while we would be outraged ” We felt this quote was especially appropriate given that an upsurge in cases of violence against women in the world ,Colombia being no exception. Recently in Colombia there was one week when 87 women were murdered and in a particularly horrific case, a woman raped and tortured in Bogota’s Parque Nacional.
As this section of the mural was being painted we invited the Skyzophrenia kids a group of break dancers from a distant and economically depressed area to come and dance in front of where we were painting and filming.
As they started dancing all these people started gathering around applauding in appreciation of their performance. Folks nearby who were nearby practicing trick moves on their bikes decide to join in and suddenly a spontaneous show was happening for people in the community.
Something that those watching really enjoyed. Afterwards we had great conversations with the dancers talking about things happening in the world especially in Africa and everyone left with a very good vibe. Fortunately for us some of the Rebel youth invited some of their friends to come and film what was happening. They managed to capture the vibrancy and energy of the moment and the neighborhood where the mural was being painted. Then Santiago Ospina Castro who we nicknamed ‘The Dangerous Editor’ put together a beautiful video that used a lot of natural light to great effect. Fittingly he used a make a type of camera whose catalogue title is actually the ‘Rebel’ make… Please pay special attention to the graffiti at the very start of the video. It was done by Anamaria and Santiago .Two rebel youth who on their own iniative went and did a piece of graffiti that depicted the IR logo. It was an especially wonderful surprise for us as this is what IR isabout !!Encouraging folks to take the iniative and use the creative resistance that is within them. As the final edit was done on the video we completed, equipment and painting materials being packed the Rebel youth realised that they had only a few minutes to catch the last bus home. So we all ran frantically carrying boxes of equipment to catch up with the last bus as it pulled into the station. As we ran we switched the carrying of boxes so one person could run ahead with a lighter load …after several hundred yard of flat out sprinting we just beat the bus pulling into the station. An exhilarating run and a fitting end to a great project.Cuz in IR style we enter, we work, we disappear… Special dub thanks to Chite Yarumo who painted for 5 days through rain, wind and sun and with very painful tendonitis in his arm, the dub people who bought us food especially from the ‘underground restaurant’, the family of artists with their beautiful new baby who visited us each day, Manueladub for translating the passages we painted on the wall, the very charming and extremely popular photographer who helped us with taking pictures and extra special thanks to “The Dangerous Editor ‘ the very talented Santiago Ospina Castro who did such a wonderful job capturing and editing the video and all the rebel youth whose music and wonderful company we shared during the project.
Enjoy the video of the experience !
Further news and updates about IR works can be found on our facebook page IR Indigenous Resistance (here)