Photodust curator and editor Mauricio Rivera will be exhibiting samples of his visual artwork at the event: Amazon Wonderland: Electropical Party, part of the 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival (Saturday the 17th of September, from 10pm).
‘Inspired by South American psychedelic tropical culture, this night will pay tribute to the largest rainforest on Earth. Electro beats; sonic moon, jungle underground creatures and optic illusion are rising for this night of Latin thunder. Brought to you by indisputable South American fiesta celebutante EL TARRO.’
The following images were inspired by the tropical rainforests of South America. In between them, I have included passages of an article I wrote about what is known as ‘El Holocausto Cauchero’ (or ‘Rubber Holocaust’) that took place in the Amazon region during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Before the irruption of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, two books stood out as, arguably, the most important literary works produced in the young Colombian republic. The first one is the novel Maria (1867) by Jorge Isaacs: a tragic story of juvenile love, set in a romantic landscape of the serene and fertile lands of the Cauca Valley. The second one is La Vorágine (The Vortex, 1924) by José Eustasio Rivera. This book presents an expressionist portrait of that other Colombia: dark and consuming, mysterious and heretic.
Jungles governed by shadows and demons.
In the decades when the rubber industry flourished in South America, these jungles set free the worst elements of human nature. As professor Conrado Zuluaga explains in the introduction of the 1989 edition, the main character in La Vorágine is not the poet Arturo Cova -who escapes from the capital with the woman he has impregnated and ends up lost in the jungle, after going through a series of circumstances that lead him to become a slave of the rubber industry- but that ‘vegetable world more insatiable and cruel than man himself’.
Nevertheless, any vision of that ‘vegetal world’ would remain incomplete without images of the violent influence of the Arana House and the other rubber barons. Just as such, a present vision of this ‘world’ must include the tracks left by the oil industry.
After publishing his first and only novel, Rivera began to work on his second one, which he never got to finish due to his premature death in New York in 1928. It was going to be called: La Mancha Negra (The Black Stain).
The extraction of oil, together with other industries (both legal and illegal) that currently affect the South American rainforests: like mining, lumbering and the traffic of cocaine, are prompting a spiral of decadence that threatens to destroy a fundamental ecosystem for the evolution of life on earth as we know it.