The starting point of the case:
field research documentation: https://vimeo.com/215535779
This performance is inspired in existing environmental crimes which happened through different periods in history.
In 2017 I have decided to understand what an environmental crime really is. And I went on a journey, first to the amazon: the most bio-diverse ecosystem of our planet. I took this decision, not only to understand out is behind contemporary colonialism and its political complexity when it comes to environmental crime but also to relate to an european context as we are considered the top number one consumers of the planet.
I went on a discovery, a search of truth, love and empathy.
Since I was a child I told my parents about my wish to visit the amazon, yet dreaming of a green bio diverse jungle. As I enter the jungle, a dystopian dream started, as my first steps were through a landscape where there was no difference between soil and oil. The alienation of a smell of earthly fuel essence, was invading my senses. I could imagine if we would sell a product expressing the way we are wearing nature this could be a new fragrance a best selling perfume.
1: A crime that happen in the past affecting the present: Lago Agrio Case
Context: Ongoing devastation: Chevron oil spill in LAGO AGRIO, Ecuadorian amazon 1964 -1990
On of the worst case of oil pollution on the planet happened in an isolated part of Ecuador, Chevron and Texaco dumped billions of gallons of toxic wastewater into the rainforest. Today, this waste threatens five indigenous groups with extinction. During two decades of contamination, the toxic contents of the waste pits have leeched into the groundwater, streams and rivers, contaminating the larger ecosystem. Local people, depend on the water to survive, so they have no other choice as using contaminated water resources. Thousands of people have been poisoned, not only from the water but also by breathing the air from the pits. Childhood leukemia rates are four times higher in this area than in other parts of Ecuador; children as young as a few months of age have died of leukemia.
Today, Chevron is a corporate criminal on the run. It has been found guilty by Ecuadorian courts and ordered to pay $9.5 billion. However the company is defending itself against false allegations, according to the company activist groups and lawyers have used images of oil spills and indigenous people in the Amazon to mislead the public.
more info :
Victims defense argument: http://chevrontoxico.com/about/rainforest-chernobyl/
Perpetrator defense argument: https://www.chevron.com/ecuador/
Field research interviews with:
Victims in direct contact with the oil spill.
Pablo Fahardo, the lawyer of UDAPT and Donald Macayo, an activist and executive member of UDAPT
2. A crime that was successfully prevented: Sarayaku Case
Thanks to the power of nature protectors, not all the amazon is lost and in the depth of the jungle there are also indigenous communities who manage to protect their land from companies and who told me that the only way they are preventing capitalism to come is to not build roads, to keep it inaccessible from both sides, a tiny line, for them the only way is ether to escape or never get in contact with. Sarayaku community is functioning the same way as birds,they have always a big bird watching them, telling them the directions, allowing them to have visions. There everything is natural, there is no difference between a human and nature. I felt a truth feeling of love and harmony.
Context: A case of victory: Ecuadorian government, granted concession to Argentine oil and gas company Compania General de Combustibles (CGC) in 1996 without any process of consultation or consent from the community.
Sarayaku is an indigenous community defending its territory, deeply connected to nature, holding promise for humans to save themselves from global warming and extinction, living in harmony with the natural world and insisting that nature has rights deserving of protection. They are a form of resistance and an example of successful case in court, as they won a court case against an Argentinean company. They prevented this company from invading their lands, by using the potentials of law and by claiming new forms of resistance, as claiming technology as their main weapon. Using media and international support, and mostly non violent communication. They are supported with a strong team of lawyers such as Mario Melo and Juan Auz and international committees.
Field research interviews with:
Patricia Gualinga: Sarayaku leader and international relationships / Franco Viteri: Former president of Sarayaku and CONFENAI / Narcisa Simona Gualinga: Dirigent of Ancient Wise Leaders Sarayaku / Jose Gualinga: Former Leader of Sarayaku / Eriberto Gualinga: activist filmmaker from Sarayaku / Juan Auz: Lawyer
3. A crime that could have been prevented in the present: Standing Rock Case
Visiting Standing Rock reservation was part of dream of stepping into the sacred lands and birthplace of one of the most legendary holy men and Lakota’s greatest warriors, Sitting Bull. As the journey evolve, Sunshine Rose, our guiding sun, walked us through her homeland and without exception, this place is an imminent treat: a potential environmental crime. Being oral people, stories are going from generation to generation, as the story goes there is an ancient Lakota prophecy: “a Black Snake would slither across the land, desecrating the sacred sites and poisoning the water before destroying the Earth”. They believe that this black snake is the pipeline and that this prediction is happening now: a moment of unity, power and solidarity that will make a change in human history. I was also told that the builders of this pipeline were being chased in dreams by the spirits of their ancestors which were realized by machines digging in the the sacred burial sites. Water is life.
Field research interviews with:
Several people from tribe council, lawyer, organizer of the standing rock camp. Sunshine rose our guide.
Back in Belgium:
I went on a journey to understand what ecocide is and what nature rights are? Discovering the sacred lands of indigenous and how they are the only people left on this planet who are actually protecting our right to exist. However, at the same time, they are the communities who are the most affected and threaten. Who would tell a child that he/she would get killed by protecting nature? Who would tell the future generations that they could die or go to jail while defending their territory? Acknowledging that we can only decolonize nature if we are able to decolonize our selves, I’m back in Belgium with a wish of catharsis and pure transformation.
How can we best represent nature in a court?