The Possible Dialogues Journey
Diálogos Posibles/Possible Dialogues is an initiative to connect social and environmental leaders, activists, artists and academics who have common interests relating to climate change and justice, but have not had the opportunity to interact.
It was sparked at the end of 2019 by a conversation between Hector Fabio Yucuna Perea, Youth Coordinator of the Organisation of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC) and members of Más Arte Más Acción. They questioned how indigenous peoples’ struggles could be shared in the climate debate and properly considered in climate negotiations that impact on their territories. Opening out these questions with artists and institutions in Scotland with an interest in environmental justice, Possible Dialogues emerged and in 2020 the coalition met online to build relationships, share knowledge and test ideas. It is now a multi-layered creative project that brings together partners from Scotland and Colombia in the lead up to COP26, the global leaders’ climate conference in Glasgow.
Chapter 1: Elders from Araracuara at the OPIAC Farm, La Mesa, Cundinamarca
In 2021 the Colombian partners began working in the territories to initiate dialogues and build an understanding of the struggles facing communities in the Amazon. The covid-19 pandemic made it impossible to meet in large numbers, but a small group of indigenous elders from Araracuara were able to gather at the OPIAC’s farm in April to share ideas about their relationship with the earth and the challenges they face. From this encounter a short video was produced and shared with the Possible Dialogues partners in Scotland with the aim of building knowledge to eventually co-create messages for a wider public.
In June 2021, Scottish companions presented Chapter 1 of Possible Dialogues for the first time in public view as part of the series of events at the Eternal Hope Camp at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh. Through conversation and audience participation, the group addressed the following question: “How can we learn to care for, maintain and respect the planet? How can we educate ourselves to care for mother nature (the planet)?” And “How can we move towards understanding our collective role in becoming stewards of the natural environments we inhabit?”
In summary, the audience articulated three main positions to the questions posed around living in harmony with nature and learning to become stewards of the planet. (1) “Technology”, for example. An app allows you to collect credits every time you buy things, the credits accumulate to plant trees to offset consumption, (2) ‘Political’ pressure/political reform (3) rebuilding a personal ‘spiritual’ connection with nature and the planet by ‘re-indigenising’ oneself. These ideas and others opened up further debate later.
Encampment of Eternal Hope, Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh
Chapter 2: Youth Summit Vaupés, Amazonas with the OPIAC Youth Team
In June 2021 the OPIAC and MAMA travelled to Vaupés in the Amazon to record the second territorial dialogue with young people and members of the Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA), an international organisation that defends the self-determination of the region’s indigenous peoples. This second encounter took the video and ideas that emerged from the first dialogue back to the territory and went deeper into the impacts facing younger generations due to the changing climate and disrupted seasons.
Possible Dialogues are discussions and performances at The Encampment during COP 26 in Briggait, Glasgow. Created collectively by artists and organisations in Scotland and Colombia, the event brings together people in Scotland with indigenous peoples, environmental leaders, activists and artists from Latin America around climate change. It aims to strengthen the connection between holistic indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge.
Possible Dialogues at COP26:
Jonathan Colin has been leading Más Arte Más Acción’s participation in the Diálogos Posibles process, its work and interventions during COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change conference in Glasgow.
PossibleDialogues is an initiative to connect social and environmental leaders, activists, artists and academics who have common interests related to climate change and justice, building bridges of communication and creation between people from the Colombian Amazon and Scottish artists and institutions.
The journey began with the arrival of groups of “pilgrims” in Glasgow. Many had walked hundreds of miles and met in Glasgow Green with local members of Extinction Rebellion. Among them was also “The Serpent of Capitalism”, a performance art piece by Glasgow artists Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich. MAMA’s Jonathan Colin accompanied the procession along the banks of the River Clyde to George Square.
The following day, Jonathan joined artists Walker & Bromwich and Emma Nicholson, Head of Creative Programmes at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, for a discussion on Encampment of Eternal Hope and Possible Dialogues. In the afternoon she is joined by cultural critic Erna von der Walde and Sandra Moog, Professor of Sustainability and Management at the University of East Anglia. This meeting allowed us to discuss the impacts of extractivism on forest peoples in Colombia after the 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian Government and guerilla group the FARC.
Diálogos Posibles is an ongoing initiative that brings people into conversations that focus on the climate crisis. As part of our programme at documenta fifteen we opened an invitation on 22 June to invite you to walk, experience and talk about the relationships, disruptions or entanglements between nature and culture in the communities of Chocó, Colombia, the caretakers of the Aue Park in Kassel, Germany and the participants of the event.
This activity by the Aue Park in Kassel allowed us to create networks of conversation and encounter between the biodiversity ecosystem in Chocó and the natural natural space in Kassel.
Together with Florián and Carola, part of the MHK park Authority, Osneyder Valoy, from Colectivo COCO, Fausto Javier Moreno Bonilla, Sina Ribak, José Fernando Serrano and the specimens of the park, we shared a journey to share experiences between nature, culture and our ways of relating to it in the different contexts that cross us.
Upon returning to the MAMA Doc Space, those of us who explored the park on this tour shared our perceptions, notes, drawings and thoughts in a conversation.
#PossibleDialogues #DialogosPosibles is a project supported by: documentafifteen, OPIAC – Organización Nacional de los Pueblos Indígenas de la Amazonia Colombiana, universidad de los Andes , Universidad del Rosario , Más Arte Más Acción, DAAD Colombia – German Academic Exchange Service, Feminist Exchange Network, ÚNA Festival, cca_glasgow, rbgedinburgh , If Not Us Tthen Who?
Special thanks to the community of San Francisco de Loretoyacu, Organización de Pueblos Indígenas de Colombia – OPIAC, DAAD Colombia, documenta fifteen and Tilda Swinton.
Supported by the DAAD Artists in Berlin Programme with funding from the Federal Foreign Office within the framework of the International Assistance Fund for Organisations in Culture and Education.