Ymá Nhandehetama

Armando Queiroz, Almires Martins and Marcelo Rodrigues

Almires Martins is Guarani. He was once a fieldworker and a sugar cane cutter at sugar and alcohol factories. Martins also worked for the Curro Velho Foundation and the Secretary of the Environment (SEMA) in Belém, where he met Armando Queiroz, who was conducting a study on historical stigmas in the context of the Amazon. Their meeting resulted in the video Ymá Nhandehetama, which is Guarani for ‘in the past we were many’. The production of the video also featured the participation of Marcelo Rodrigues as director of photography.

In the face of so many stereotypes, oral history – as practised in the meeting between Almires Martins and Armando Queiroz – appears as a path by which individual testimony conjures collective memory. More than this, speech, as far as it expresses subjectivity, critical perspective and autonomy, empowers and legitimises itself and the narrator, making mediations unnecessary.

The political action which takes place in Ymá Nhandehetama is a reflection of Armando Queiroz’s efforts as an artist, curator, professor, writer and director of Casa das Onze Janelas, a cultural and contemporary arts space in Belém. All of these activities are today characterised by a reflection of the Amazon as a terrain for geographic, economic and identity-based disputes. In his activism, Queiroz often employs readings and workshops as work strategies, in which he and the participants inevitably share power and responsibility in a collective agenda. In this sense, negation is an essential strategy. As Queiroz writes in the text ‘The Amazon is not mine!’: ‘The Amazon is not yours. The Amazon is not. [...] The Amazon is not real. The Amazon is not naïve and peaceful. [...] The Amazon is not.’ – AMM