jueves, abril 17, 2014

Photo Essay: The Beehive Collective's First Tour in Colombia of the New Graphic Campaign ‘Mesoamérica Resiste’

Original: Upside Down World

After nine years of research and illustration, the Beehive Design Collective launched their latest graphic campaign, Mesoamérica Resiste, in December of last year. Mesoamérica Resiste is the third installment in a trilogy about globalization in the Americas (following earlier graphics about the FTAA and Plan Colombia). This graphic campaign was directly researched with communities from Mexico, Central America, and Colombia who are impacted by the Mesoamerican Integration and Development Project, a neoliberal regional development plan formerly known as Plan Puebla Panama. Since fundraising for a big initial print run of posters and banners last year, the Bees have been actively buzzing across the hemisphere using these illustrated popular education tools to pollinate resistance in communities facing resource-extraction industries, militarization, and forced displacement.

 Since late last year, pollinators involved with the project Polinizaciones have been facilitating workshops of Mesoamérica Resiste and sharing posters with communities from Petén, Guatemala to Caquetá, Colombia. In February 2014, the Beehive was invited to participate in an artist residency with the Museo de Antioquia of Medellin, Colombia, as part of Contraexpediciones (Counter Expeditions).

The residencies invited 16 artists and collectives to work with communities in the Department of Antioquia to create artistic pieces regarding territory, identity, and the conflicts that are many times present. Polinizaciones, along with muralist Guache Street Art, adapted the Beehive’s research methods of creating graphic campaigns to create numerous murals against gold mining in Farallones, Ciudad Bolivar, in a collective process with students from the local school and community members from an environmental working group. An exhibit of photos documenting this process is now on display at the Museo de Antioquia until June, as part of Contraexpediciones.

Following the artist residency, the pollinators of Polinizaciones toured and brought Mesoamérica Resiste to a variety of rural and urban communities living the realities depicted in the graphic. In Medellin, weeks before the city hosted the World Urban Forum,we painted murals and shared with communities suffering the impacts of gentrification. In the Department of Caldas there was a showing in the city of Manizales, and we also spent a week visiting different schools and community spaces in the Indigenous Reserve of San Lorenzo of the Embera Chamí People.

In the city of Cali, Bees presented the Mesoamérica Resiste graphic in different public settings including the University of Valle and the San Antonio hill. In the Agua Blanca District of the city, a workshop was held with the youth of the Theatre Circus Capuchini. In the north of the Department of Cauca, pollinators visited the indigenous Nasa communities of Toribio and Tacueyo. In Tacueyo, the Bees were present for the swearing in of this year´s Student Indigenous Guard and in Toribio, at the CECIDIC educational center, numerous workshops were done with students. In the area of Silvia in Central Cauca, Mesoamérica Resiste was shared in schools of the Kiswo People and Misak People, as well as at the Misak University and community radio station.

In Cauca, our last stop was the city of Popayan, where Mesoamérica Resiste was shared in spaces such as the Colectivo Cultural Wiphala, the local SENA, and the University of Cauca. The tour finished in La Jagua, Huila, a community impacted by the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project. The two-day event in La Jagua included a showing of all four major graphic campaigns of the Beehive, plus a presentation of Mesoamérica Resiste and a drawing workshop the following day. While this tour has ended, the work of sharing the Mesoamérica Resiste graphic and cross-pollinating stories with communities all over the hemisphere continues.

miércoles, abril 09, 2014



Sobre un cartel, la Colmena inyectó de tinta a los animales y plantas de nuestra América Latina para que se lancen a defender la autonomía de los territorios y su gente. Hacer frente a los mega-proyectos que pretenden tapar la resistencia con sus alfombras de progreso son las luchas que se dan en esta fábula de la vida real...   (LEER MÁS)

viernes, abril 04, 2014

Polinizando en Manizales con el Colectivo La Rayuela

Registro Fotográfico gracias a Johan Bauke

Pollinating for the first time with the Embera Chami People of Ríosucio, Caldas

Taking flight again, we Bees took off for the Department of Caldas. Although we've been in Manizales many times, this visit was the first time we'd been able to visit a rural area of Caldas. Luckily we happened to cross paths with a friend in Medellín who invited us to visit her community, the Embera Chamí community of the San Lorenzo Indigenous Reserve, in Ríosucio, Caldas.

During our stay in this territory we had the great privilege of meeting and sharing stories with many people in the community. In the time we were there, we were able to do presentations of Mesoamérica Resiste in the central park of San Lorenzo, with all of the council members of the reserve in the Council House, in the Educational Institute of San José, with the inhabitants of El Roble countryside, and in the Educational Institute el Salado of the Indigenous Reserve Nuestra Señora Candelaria de la Montaña. On top of us sharing our work, many people also shared their stories with us, explaining the history of this community and their struggles against violence, mega-projects, cultural assimilation and social disintegration. We were really inspired and moved by the persistence of some of the elders and the youth in strengthening their community and recuperating memory and knowledge, including their language that isn't spoken anymore in San Lorenzo.

In El Salado we learned about, and saw, how the territory is surrounded by mono-crops of pine and eucalyptus from the multinational company Cartones de Colombia. This community is named for an old salt mine that used to be here, and there are still some mining tunnels where today they mine coal. We learned about that and much more when we were working with students in an exercise of collective analysis of the Mesoamérica Resiste graphic and we were really delighted and inspired by one student especially who shone incredibly when she explained her scenes, she really had a strong understanding of the themes in the graphic and could talk about them easily. In El Salado and in San Lorenzo we were able to view the process of the Escuela Propia (Our Own School), an initiative of some teachers and youth to focus on learning Embera Chamí knowledge, and learning from its neighboring communities, with the intention of appropriating Embera thought, transmit memory, and be able to think of one self while creating and weaving bead-work, chumbes (long belt-like weavings), and baskets as well as creating music and painting.

In the entire territory where we were of the Embera Chamí communities of Caldas there is gold, a lot of gold, and because of its proximity to mining areas like Marmato, it is no surprise that mining companies (national and multinational) have their eyes on this territory and are trying to get concessions to exploit it. They've even brought electricity to a faraway community in the highlands on the border of the San Lorenzo Indigenous Reserve, between Jardín and Caramanta, Antioquia, which people from this area think that they've put in this energy infrastructure in order to begin a mining project there. In this area there are abandoned mining tunnels believed to be from the end of the 17th or 18th century. The thing is that it is known there is gold and since there are already long tunnels in Marmoto and Caramanta, some think that miners can already be picking away from below.

From talking to a young man dedicated to protecting native seeds, we learned that the community did a study in San Lorenzo and found out that 78% of their corn is already contaminated with genetically modified corn genes. They did the study because they suspected something was wrong with their corn, because the arepas would not stay together and could not be made for preparation.  Also because their chickens rejected the corn. It's been such a serious problem that the Cañamomo and Loma Prieta Indigenous Reserves, that work together with San Lorenzo as "custodians or guardians of the seeds" have the same genetic contamination. All of the reserves are taking measures to protect their seeds from this problem.

In the countryside of el Roble we were able to learn about a community initiative to recover a sacred site known as Piralago. Los Chamis are people from the mountains, so these hills are very important. Piralago was recovered, from a land owning politician. An elder consulting with his ancestors said that it was a site of study, a place for dreaming, because the Emberas are dreamers and these dreams are important for the community´s well being and persistence. The territory where Piralago is found was part of a larger farm called Casa Grande (Big House). They plan to harmonize and recuperate the place by reviving the memory of their ancestors, walk the paths that used to exist here, using the ceremonial sites to talk with their ancestors, the jaibas (good spirits), and the other surrounding mountains.

The bittersweet part of being on tour is that our stay in each community is always too short. After a few days in San Lorenzo, getting to know people and sharing, we were so impressed by the committed people of the Embera nation and their process of resistance and defense of their territory. Above all we were really happy to be able to share our work with the youth of the community, and see their enthusiasm for using the graphics campaigns to understand their reality and the reality that many others are living in other places too. We now have a commitment to return at some point to this territory, to continue sharing, weaving, pollinating, and walking together with our new family.