Gourd Carving in Peru Brought to Life by Participatory Videos

At an workshop event at the Ecocentrix exhibition in London, Irma Poma Canchumani spoke some fascinating words about how she feels a direct link between the participatory video work she is involved in and her gourd carving, each literally informs the other…

“This is my script. On these gourds I engrave my script – these gourds
tell stories about our traditional clothing, our farming practices,
the origins of our seeds, the way we honor our sacred mountains.
Through the gourd you can follow a visual narrative. Another way I’ve
found to do that is through the medium of video.

Technology can be something valuable: video has the capacity to
transmit knowledge -but often it is used for just entertainment, as a
means of consumption. When we work from the heart we use video to
transmit important ecological and cultural knowledge that is being
forgotten. Technology allows us to document what we value, to travel
with our videos, share how we have been neglecting our Mother Earth.
It can be used to transmit important things like our culture, and our
ecological relationship with Mother Earth (Pacha Mama). When we make
our videos we can transmit these messages from heart to hearts.

Our people are mistrustful of being filmed. They think the film maker
will profit personally from the film and the community will gain
nothing. That is why we use participatory video. It has no heirachy,
there is no “director”, no “editor” -we all work as one. A group of us
comes together to work on a project together.“

Irma Poma is an ambassador for the environment, a traditional healer, and a superb artist. A Quechua gourd carver and filmmaker from Junín province in Peru, she addresses climate change and the protection of traditional knowledge through her gourds and video. Irma got involved with the Conversations with the Earth project and was trained in participatory video making by InsightShare.

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