Orinoco-Venezuela: indian life in the Amazon
The Fundación Cisneros expands the
international tour of its renowned Colección Orinoco - a
comprehensive collection of items made by indigenous peoples of the Southern
Amazon Basin - with a major exhibition opening December 10,
2005, at the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and
Ethnography, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The
exhibition, titled Orinoco-Venezuela: Indian Life in the
Amazon, includes approximately 200 objects from the Colección
Orinoco. Frequently of a dazzling level of craftsmanship and originality, these
reveal both how close the peoples who made them are to their natural
surroundings, and the inextricable links between their material cultures and
spiritual lives. UBS is principal sponsor of Orinoco-Venezuela: Indian Life in
the Amazon. The exhibition remains on view at the Museum for approximately a
The Fundación Cisneros,
founded by Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, her husband, Gustavo Cisneros, and her
brother-in-law Ricardo Cisneros, in association with the Cisneros Group of
Companies, uses exhibitions drawn from the Coleccion Orinoco to promote
international appreciation of indigenous Amazonian cultures and their land. The
origins of the Coleccion lie in a 1971 expedition to the region made by Patricia
and Gustavo Cisneros, sparking both an enduring passion for the cultures and
environment of the Venezuelan Amazon and several more such trips over the
Since 1999, more than 3 million
people have experienced the Colección Orinoco at museums and other cultural
organizations in Bonn (1999-2000), Hanover (2000), and Frankfurt (2001),
Germany; Biarritz, France (2001); Geneva and Zurich, Switzerland (2003-2004);
Prague, Czech Republic (2003-04); Tampere, Finland (2004-05); and Gothenburg,
Fundación Cisneros Chairman Patricia
Phelps de Cisneros states, "The Fundación Cisneros is thrilled to be expanding
access to the Colección Orinoco to the people of St. Petersburg. It is hoped
that through exhibitions such as Orinoco-Venezuela: Indian Life in the Amazon,
the complex, fascinating cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin
will become more widely known. We are grateful to the Peter the Great Museum of
Anthropology and Ethnography for recognizing the importance of increasing
worldwide knowledge of these diverse cultures, which are so rapidly
disappearing, and are pleased to be able to share the Colección Orinoco with
Museum visitors in St. Petersburg."
Yuri K. Chistov, Director of the
Peter the Great Museum, says, "This exhibition promises to be an eye-opening
experience for our visitors. Russia is a multicultural country, with an
extremely diverse population. Understanding and respect for different cultures
is therefore a critical part of daily life in our country. The Museum hopes that
Orinoco-Venezuela will enlighten our visitors to the culture and daily lives of
the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin. We are grateful to the Fundación
Cisneros for enabling the Museum to present this important exhibition."
Orinoco-Venezuela: Indian Life in the
Amazon will illuminate the daily lives and complex beliefs of the indigenous
peoples of the Southern Amazon through the display of both objects related to
daily life and those used in ritual and ceremony. Among the items on view will
be boats, paddles, graters, pottery, textiles, and unique and intricately woven
baskets, as well as such ceremonial objects as masks, feather decorations, and
shamanic accessories. Also included will be stunning body adornments, such as
armbands, necklaces, and earrings, and musical instruments, such as pipes,
flutes, and rattles. In addition to opening a window onto peoples' lives, these
varied items will testify to the high level of craftsmanship and artistry that
imbues even the most quotidian of objects.
Life in the Amazon will display the diverse items in clusters, so that viewers
will be able to note, for example, the different forms and uses of basketry, or
the variety of materials used in the many-and beautiful-feather decorations.
Moreover, each group of objects is shown alongside or in front of large-scale
photographs that show the items in use by the peoples who created them.
Daily life will be explored through a
variety of objects. For example, the integral role that fishing plays in the
lives of the peoples of the Orinoco will be shown through a display of boats,
paddles, and fishing gear, installed in front of wall-sized photographs of men
and boys paddling down the River, as well as aerial views that reveal the
relationship of the Orinoco to the surrounding forest. Similarly, the importance
of manioc and yucca is conveyed through a selection of graters and baskets,
shown next to photographs of people going through the complex process of
preparing the plants for consumption.
Ritual will be highlighted
through such objects as masks, feather decorations, shaman seats, ceremonial
staffs, and ritual weapons, as well as through a great diversity of body
adornments, including armbands, necklaces, and earrings made of wood and seeds
or from animal parts. Again, these will be displayed adjacent to photographs
that show them in use.
While the artifacts to be included in
Orinoco-Venezuela: Indian Life in the Amazon are exceptionally diverse, they are
all crafted from native vegetable and animal materials, including bird feathers,
claws, beaks, skin, and animal teeth; plant fibers, bark, and pigment; wood;
stones; cotton; and seeds. Throughout the exhibition, maps and descriptive texts
in Russian and English will shed further light on the objects and the peoples
from the twelve groups encompassed by the Colección Orinoco, as well as the
natural environment in which their lives unfold. Orinoco-Venezuela: Indian Life
in the Amazon is organized by the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and
Ethnography, working with Lelia Delgado, Director and Chief Curator of the
Colección Orinoco, and with Colección Orinoco Associate Curator Andres Ortega
and Conservator Zuleima Jimenez, as well as Rafael Santana, Assistant to the
Executive President, Fundación Cisneros. From the Peter the Great Museum,
contributors to the exhibition included Museum Director Yuri K. Chistov, Deputy
Directors Julia A. Kupina and Andrey A. Mel'nikov, Chief Curator Pavel I.
Pogorelski, and Senior Coordinator in the Exhibition Department Nadezhda V.
While Amazonia was for many years
considered an inhospitable and remote region of the globe, valued solely for the
natural resources it offered, during the past several decades interest in the
peoples native to the region has increased. Ironically, this interest has
coincided with the steady disappearance of the people and their land, victims of
a variety of factors, including cultural assimilation and the development of
forestlands. The Colección Orinoco was assembled in order to preserve the rich
art and artifacts of native Amazonian cultures. It is one of the most
distinguished and comprehensive collections of its kind, and it forms the basis
of a program of study and conservation administered by the Fundación Cisneros.
The Colección brings together some
2,000 objects created by twelve distinct ethnic groups. The De'aruwa (Piaroa),
Ye'kuana, Yanomami, Hiwi (Guahibo), E'nepa (Panare), and Hodi live in the
Orinoco River Basin, in southern Venezuela. The Wakuenai (Curripaco), Baniwa
(Baniva), Bare, Puinave, Warekena, and Tsase (Piapoko) are from the Guayana and
Black River Amazon Basin regions of Brazil and Colombia.
In November 2000, the Colección
Orinoco was awarded the Leone d'Oro di San Marco, one of the most prestigious
cultural prizes in Europe, in acknowledgment of the collection's exceptional
artistic quality, historical importance, and educational value.
In addition to exhibitions, which are
frequently accompanied by a publication, the Colección Orinoco is shared with
others through an educational website. The site-www.orinoco.org-features
highlights from the collection, as well as information about the indigenous
populations it represents. It is available in Spanish, Portuguese, and English.
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and
The Peter the Great Museum of
Anthropology and Ethnography, also known as the Kunstkamera, was founded in 1714
as the first museum in Russia. It began as Peter the Great's Cabinet of
Curiosities, and in 1724 became part of the newly formed Academy of Sciences.
For over 100 years, it functioned as an important public institution of
scientific research that incorporated an art collection, library, scientific
exhibitions, and archaeological displays. Thanks to donations by the Russian
Imperial family and their sponsorship of several expeditions, the collection
grew to great proportions. In 1836, the Kunstkamera was divided into several
distinct museums, each devoted to its own area of science. Among these, the
Ethnographic Museum-later the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography-served to
educate visitors about the peoples and cultures of the world.
Today, the Museum holds one of the
world's premier international collections of ethnographic and anthropologic
objects, comprising of more than 1.8 million items, highlights of which include
some of the extraordinary items gathered during expedition of G.I.Lanngsdorf to
Amazonian Region in the mid. Of the XIX century. Permanent exhibitions include
installations exploring the cultures of the peoples of the Americas, Africa,
Asia, Australia, and Oceania.
The Fundación Cisneros
The Caracas-based Fundación Cisneros,
dedicated to improving the daily lives of Latin Americans, initiates and
supports a wide range of innovative programs, many of which leverage the media
resources of the Cisneros Group of Companies to reach ever-greater audiences.
Fundación Cisneros programs focus on education, culture, the environment, and
community and humanitarian services, and on increasing global awareness of
contemporary Latin America. Executive President of the Fundación Cisneros is
Pedro R. Tinoco.
The public can experience the
Colección Orinoco at www.orinoco.org.
Other Fundación Cisneros Websites are: www.coleccioncisneros.org and www.ame.cisneros.org.
For additional information or visual
materials, contact Jeanne Collins or Lucy O'Brien at Jeanne Collins &
Associates, LLC, New York City, 646-486-7050, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information or visual
materials related to the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography,
call (7-812) 328-08-12, or visit www.kunstkamera.ru