Christian Bendayán: “In the Amazon, what is understood as oneiric, is reality” | Interview

Dreams, madness and spell. These are some impressions generated by the great exhibition of Amazonian art at the MAC: Rivers can exist without water but not without banks, under the curatorship of Giuliana Vidarte and Christian Bendayán. 66 invited artists who underline the curatorial intention: to show the diversity of Amazonian art.

To have more insight into this event, CARETAS spoke with Bendayán.

—The dream is very present in each work in the exhibition.

In the Amazon, what is understood as oneiric is reality. It is a matter of inverting the perception of existence.

—In this sense, the Amazon, metaphorically, is the “dream” that the world requires today, given to the immediacy and the material?

The practices that are dictated in the myths of the Amazon hold the solution to the most serious problems facing the world in the coming decades, regarding global warming, extinction of species, the need for a balanced ecosystem.

“The discovery of the Amazon” (2007) by Luis Sakiray. Enamel painting on canvas.

“What has kept her going?”

If the Amazon has remained healthy and functioning, it is due to the culture linked to myths and spirituality that is now widely expressed in the arts, and what this exhibition has sought is to gather key pieces of this production.

—Do you think this is the time of the Amazon?

This is the time when attention is paid to the Amazon and unfortunately it is due to economic factors. The damage suffered by the Amazon could have a catastrophic impact on the planet for humanity.

—The title of the exhibition has already been used before by Giuliana Vidarte and you.

We decided to think and execute things from the Amazon perspective and believe in cycles. Let’s start over. The title encompasses so many real and dream things. In the Amazon, rivers can exist without water. Rivers are moving snakes. We understand this phrase as a symbolic form: Amazonian art invading the world from art.

“The forbidden lake” (2020) by Dimas Paredes.

—The exhibition stands out for its diversity.

The same exhibition puts works with contrasting views to debate. There are several points that the planet exposes about how we look at the Amazon and how it looks from the inside.

—But this diversity was not always attended to.

Amazonian art 20 years ago had lost all presence and all interest from Lima. The great Amazon exhibition, the one that had the greatest investment by the State, is from 1943 for the 400 years of the discovery of the Amazon River. It included important artists, such as Sabogal and Sérvulo Gutiérrez, but it did not include artists from the Amazon. It has been 20 years of hard work.

Ch. Bendayán: “The practices that are dictated in the myths of the Amazon, keep the solution to the most serious problems that the world faces in the coming decades, regarding global warming, extinction of species, the need for an ecosystem in balance”. (PHOTO: VÍCTOR CH. VARGAS).

—What is the news of Amazonian art?

Amazonian art has found its own ways, has escaped from the formal circuit, has generated alliances with filmmakers, anthropologists, naturopathic doctors, musicians and researchers from different disciplines. Amazonian art fulfills a vision: to bring Peru closer to its Amazon.

—The design of the space has a strong aesthetic content.

What we have done since the curatorship is to make the MAC an Amazonian space. When I saw the room, I imagined a snake running through it. It feels like the Amazon within Lima, with forests, rivers and spirits that live in those places.