From Ayse Balko

04 - 30 Nov 2017

Trelex Amazon Residency Reflections..

I could write two posts to describe the amazing space that Trelex Amazon and Rainforest Expeditions provided for us, one for Refugio and one for TRC (Tambopata Research Centre.) The lodges are incredible. Being in a jungle and far away from the world is an exhilarating experience. Having a whole month in the rainforest and in this environment allowed me to relax and absorb the space, the people, the jungle and myself. The art of exploration could not get any more comfortable and luxurious.Was I spoiled? Yes, very much so and I love the memory that stays with me.

I developed two major bodies of work during my residency in the Amazon at the Rainforest Expedition Lodges. One of them is a photography series and the other one is experimental electronic soundscapes.

Experimental Soundscapes: Rat on the Tree; A Flat Death
Photography Gallery Spaces Once Hold Memories: Trelex Amazon - Tambopata

Displacement - Memory - Re-designing Identity
My Inspiration:  I explore identity and memory.

A month in the lodges allowed me to absorb and reflect. Allowing the materials to form their identity in my perception.  Early in the morning waking up with a thunderstorm, macaw calls and the sound of howling monkeys. Watching Hummingbirds, listening to frogs, walking through the trails, laughing with spider monkeys, amazed by Peccaries, being thrilled by the sounds coming from the deep darkness at night became part of the daily living.

The cohesion/focus for the project came from the ordinary pieces laying on the ground level of the forest. The shapes formed by leaves, barks became the abstract sculptures. They were the invisible force drawing me to a clarity. Each piece had its own lifespan. The displacement of a seed holds the hopes of a tree for a new start, a continuation of its memories.   A leaf has the same memory as the bark it was once connected to.  The smell of caramelised fresh fruits, some dried, nutritious, poisonous textures of the ground arises. This is the story of the Amazonian Basin.

A bark fallen from the hight of a palm tree holds the same memory as the palm tree. It remembers a spider monkey passing by and the heavy storms of last month.

During my walks around the trails, I started to record sounds and collect pieces from the ground. By bringing them into my space, I re-define the forms.  Bark used to support a fruits, seeds, leaves became the symbol of my exploration of identity. A new life form was about to wake up through the act of displacement. My space was re-defining the form.

The new life is a concept and it only exists in the conceptual world.

Each object I picked up has a relationship with me and my walk on the day we met in the jungle. A collection of memories, piling up objects until the light in my heart is ready to release what it holds.

During the residency, I learned to confront my anomalies. My loss of memory, my anxieties are part of my work. The relationship formed between me and some of the people I met during my residency enabled me to remodel my work. I ferret out the core themes of my artistic practice through immersed conversations with some of the guides, artists, biologists, neurologists, doctors and many more friends at the lodges. I would like to thank them for the invaluable insight which they have generously granted me.

What happens to the space held by a memory after it is removed, displaced or forgotten?

Sketchbook pages by Abi Box

Sketchbook pages by one of our Trelex Amazonas residents, Abi Box, made during her time in the Peruvian Rainforest.

abi box abi box

abi box abi box

From Miriam Sedaca

1 Nov - 1 Dec 2017

Finding a way to express my experience of spending a month in the Amazon rainforest, either in words or through my work, has been a difficult task. The distance between the jungle and the home to which I returned felt like a vast gulf over which I had to leap in order to relay my experience in a meaningful way. So I brought the role of transmitting that experience back to my body and its senses – the vessel which crossed from there to here, an archive in which the sounds and smells of the rainforest still echo.

I bring myself back to the feeling of humidity condensing on my skin, of the pressure in the air before thunder and rain rolled through the forest. I remember the noise, constant yet always changing, of the multitude of insects, birds, frogs, monkeys and other creatures which surrounded me, many of which I began to recognise by ear without ever seeing. My eyes recall the sensation of adjusting to the twilight as I walked below the forest canopy. Of suddenly seeing a point of light out of the corner of my eye and realising that a firefly had landed in my hair and was helping to light my way through the dusk. The sweet and heavy smells of flowers, earth, and rotting fruit still seem to linger in my nostrils. The textures of bark, root, fungus and leaves still hold a dialogue with my fingertips. And through all of my senses, a feeling of life intensified, of everything alive and everything vibrating, and me vibrating with it, joining in the frequency of everything around me. 

It was around these sensory experiences that I constructed my work while at the residency and after my return. However I also found myself compelled to consider the gap between my experience in the Amazon, and specifically in the Madre de Dios region, and the lives of its inhabitants. Before arriving in Puerto Maldonado, when I flying over the forest, I saw large patches of empty exposed brown cut into the green below. I had heard about the illegal gold mining in the area which was destroying habitats, wildlife and local communities, and releasing mercury into the rivers, but seeing these swathes cut out of the rainforest brought the reality to me with a jolt. While staying in the beautiful jungle lodges it could be easy to forget this destruction and threat, which seemed a world away but was in fact happening at an alarmingly close proximity. 

Reading Astrida Neimanis’ essay “Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water” gave me a key to considering these disparities in relation to the all-encompassing unity of liquid. The unifying pervasiveness of water became the theme which preoccupied my work in the residency, and through which I sought to reconcile the apparent distance and actual proximity of the destruction and pollution in the area. It flows through the rivers and streams which I passed every day, rises with rainforest’s humidity, and moves through the internal channels of animals and plants. It is ever-present as the life source of the Amazon’s millions of species of animals and plants, and also as an archive which carries toxic pollutants into and through all of those species. Through the mercury which is released into the rivers as a waste product of the mining process, the waterways which run through the forest become channels of pollution as well as sources of life. If we consider ourselves as bodies of water, made up of two thirds liquid, we cannot help but feel that the boundaries between ourselves and others are less absolute, more fluid. Water, like the body, is an archive and communicator. As it flows in and out of ourselves and others, it dissolves the boundaries between us, carrying both sustenance and toxicity through and between us. 

My work from the residency, “Water’s Breath”, (a performance combining movement, film, and spoken word) was performed at the Opera House in Jersey in January 2018 and at Bow Arts in London in February 2018 as part of their Art for the Environment programme.