Exhibition “The Archipelagos of Nara Guichon” opens in Laguna, uniting art with the environmental agenda

Textile artist, designer and environmentalist Nara Guichon opens exhibition project that combines ecology and visual arts in Laguna

Photo: Renata Gordo/Disclosure

The historic Laguna Public Market opens, on the 6th of August, Saturday, the exhibition "The archipelagos of Nara Guichon", by textile artist, designer and environmentalist Nara Guichon (Santa Maria, 1955). Contemplated by the Elisabete Anderle Award for Supporting Culture – Edition 2021, executed with resources from the State of Santa Catarina through the Fundação Catarinense de Cultura, the project will also be presented in Blumenau and Chapecó.

"The Archipelagos of Nara Guichon" features around 15 textile works developed in the last three years, which point both to the artist's fundamental raw material and to the element responsible for 50% of the world's ocean pollution: fishing nets. Abandoned like garbage and collected along the coast of Florianópolis, where the artist lives, the fishing nets are the basis for her work. Nara also uses plastic bags, fabrics rejected by the textile industry and even discarded clothes. Her work, therefore, is based on reuse and resignification.

As has been repeatedly reminded by NGOs, environmentalists and leaders committed to the health of the planet, we are experiencing an unprecedented climate emergency, and a large part of this situation is associated not only with the high levels of methane gas and carbon monoxide present in the atmosphere, but also to unbridled consumption, which produces thousands of tons of materials daily discarded as garbage; that dumps so many tons of clothes in poor countries, coming from the consumption cycles and fads of rich countries; that kills animal and plant species with poison, with plastic, with polyamide nets abandoned in the seas. Critically, but also poetically, the exhibition addresses this.

In her creative process, Nara Guichon collects the fishing nets and washes them carefully, using only water and natural soap; then dyes them with natural pigments, using iron filings, turmeric, onion skin, yerba mate, vinegar, fire, water and earth. Adopting manual sewing, knitting and winding threads and nets, from galvanized wires also collected as waste, the artist creates polymorphic structures, in dialogue with the forms of nature. Two of the works on display were recently presented at the Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana, in Porto Alegre, in the installation The sea we don't see, next to the Lutzenberger Garden, marking the International Day of the Environment, celebrated on June 5th. Other works in the series that Nara has been developing were shown in June at the 1st International Contemporary Material Art Biennale in China.

The archipelagos of Nara Guichon is curated by critic and art historian Paula Ramos, professor at the Institute of Arts of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. At the opening of the exhibition, Nara and Paula will have a conversation with the public about the project and the artist's creative process, as well as its relevance in the contemporary context. At this time, the documentary video produced by Renata Gordo will also be shown, revealing the various stages related to Nara's ecological and artistic process.

On the same day, August 6, in the afternoon, Nara will develop a paper Ecoprint workshop. “Ecoprint” is the botanical print. Using only leaves, flowers, roots and plant bark, the proposal is to make poetry on paper, printing textures and colors of nature. All from a simple, clean, ecological and fascinating method. The workshop is free and offers 20 seats, open to people of all ages.

Complementing the project, on the morning of the 7th, Sunday, tree seedlings will be planted in the city, in partnership with the Botany Laboratory and the LAG Herbarium of UDESC. The seedlings of Aroeira Vermelha, Capororoca and Jerivá will be implanted both in the courtyard of the UDESC Campus and on Avenida Mato Grosso, on the beach of Mar Grosso. Planting activities will run from 8:30 am to 12 pm. The articulation of the entire project, therefore, takes place both through the artistic and ecological aspects, evidencing something that forms the framework of the artist's performance. The project brings together the materials and recognized craftsmanship of Nara Guichon, conquered over more than five decades dedicated to textiles, as well as expressing, through solitary, persevering and continuous work, her ode to the environment.

Between threads and ecology: the natural entanglement of Nara Guichon
Nara Guichon remembers that she was four years old when she first approached skeins of wool and knitting needles; the encounter was so genuine that, at nine, he produced and sold his first play. She also remembers that around ten, helping her grandmother in the garden and watching her burn leaves, she felt that something there was definitely not right. The fact is that manual practices and a certain environmental intuition invoked her from an early age, and she heeded the call, finding in knitting, embroidery and sewing not only her form of expression, but her profession. She started by knitting pieces that subverted the stitches and patterns, associating the technique with patchwork, inserting weaving scraps and blends with crochet pieces. Subsequently, she turned to the manual loom, debugging the threads and producing design artifacts that used organic cotton, coconut seeds, shells and beads and, mainly, discarded fishing nets, something from her own habitat.

The region where Nara lives, in the south of the island of Santa Catarina, is known for its traditional fishing activity. It was in 1998, seeing not only the garbage that reached the beach, brought by the sea currents, but hundreds of polyamide fishing nets worn out by use and abandoned by the sea, like rubble, that she decided to appropriate this material, converting the energy of what was reserved for the dunghill and giving it new uses.

Developed in those days, the transmutation process remains: accurate washing using only water, purification and cutting of the nets, use of oxidation techniques and natural pigmentation. In the process, he adopts iron dust, fire, water, earth and, of course, time; it also uses herbs, flowers and vegetable peels from the forest, using natural dyes extracted from plants such as yerba mate, annatto, crajiru and pau-Brasil. In many of the pieces, he also uses leftover cotton and fibers rejected by the textile industry. Its north is reuse, sustainability, conscious and ethical consumption, appreciation of artisanal knowledge, respect for the environment.

In the meantime, one of the most important projects for the artist, designer and environmentalist is Clean Waters, which combines the use of discarded fishing nets with the recovery of native forest. Materialized in bags and sponges for cleaning or body exfoliation made with the hammocks, Clean Waters, in progress since 2014, reverts around 20% of the profit to community projects dedicated to reforestation. One of them is the one developed by the NGO Apremavi, Association for the Preservation of the Environment and Life, based in the municipality of Atalanta, in Santa Catarina. Created in 1987, Apremavi carries out a series of initiatives to recover devastated areas of the Atlantic Forest; Nara Guichon has been associated with the entity since 1988, collaborating continuously and actively.


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