Facing Human Wrongs:
Navigating paradoxes and complexities
of social and global change.
Memorial: Benicio (Benny) Pitaguary (1992-2022)
Benny was a member of the GTDF collective who passed away in unjust and tragic circumstances on March 28, 2022. Benny was an Indigenous leader, a body and visual artist, a holistic therapist, a geographer, a Masters’ student, a singer and a catalyst of connections, who brought us all together in the “Teia das 5 Curas” network. For the Pitaguary community, Benny has gone through a process of “ancestralizalização”: of becoming an ancestor and has now joined the “encantados” in another dimension of being. This art exhibition honours his life, his commitment to artistic practices, his teachings and his contributions to the work of the collective.
Land-engaged body art
Benny was working with different Indigenous communities in Brazil to revitalize the practice of body art as a way of inscribing the land in the body and the body in the land. Many Indigenous communities lost this practice due to the necessity of concealing their Indigenous identity for safety in violent colonial contexts. These Indigenous body designs are context, time and community specific, and they have different purposes, including: healing, communing, memory activation, evocation of qualities, preparation of tasks, education, territorialization, and more. The two most common plants used for body art are the Jenipapo and the Urucum. The juice of the Jenipapo fruit mixed with ashes is used as a dark ink that can last on the skin for up to three weeks. Urucum, which comes from red seeds, does not last long, but is extremely important in ceremonies and communal events. Benny would go to different communities to work with Indigenous artists and youth to bring the practice back. Benny also came to Canada to offer workshops at UBC and Thompson rivers University: “In this workshop participants will learn about the history of how colonialism has impacted Indigenous relationships with bodies, art, land and dreams in Brazil and how the revitalization of land-engaged body art is contributing to the health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities. Participants will be invited to take part in a “vivencia” (experiential learning) that can give them a glimpse of how these Indigenous practices can activate other senses and repair the fabric of our connections with one another and with the land. After all, we are all relatives.”
Benny was the author of many of the designs used in GTDF publications. The set below titled “Symmetries” was designed in 2018.
Benny’s latest work was a set of 4 drawings called “Sacred territory that demarcates the body as land”
The mural painted by visual artist Wesley Rocha in honour of Benny at the Pitaguary community school was used with permission as the featured image of Facing Human Wrongs.