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Denilson Baniwa
Pajé JaguarDenilson Baniwa is an artist of the Baniwa people – from the village of Darí in the northwest of the Amazon region, along the Rio Negro and its tributaries – now based in the city of Niterói, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He makes performances, documented through photography and film, which are informed by the traditions and current lived experiences of Amazonian ancestral communities.

This exhibition features two sets of works in which the artist embodies Pajé Jaguar, a Baniwa shaman. Pajé Jaguar comments on commercial agricultural practises in Brazil and beyond, which promote extensive deforestation. Pajé Jaguar also protests the broad lack of Indigenous art in museums and international exhibitions such as the Bienal de São Paulo. The works demonstrate the necessity of Indigenous knowledge in developing environmentally conscious approaches to land use, and promote the revamping of the Western-dominated cultural canon to position Indigenous knowledge at the core of all human pursuits.

This is the first presentation of Baniwa’s practice in Ireland. It features newly created works and a selection of key recent works.

The exhibition is produced by SIRIUS in collaboration with the Colégio das Artes of the Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal, and curated by Nelson Ricardo Martins in dialogue with Miguel Amado, Director, SIRIUS.
Denilson Baniwa, S/ título, da série Pajé Allpaca [Untitled, from the series Allpaca Shaman], 2023. Courtesy of the artist
Denilson Baniwa is concerned with the conflict between Western hegemonic worldviews and the practices of Amazonian ancestral communities. His works blend manifestations of Indigenous and Western popular cultures – objects, iconographies and more – so as to critique colonialist narratives and perspectives.

Baniwa emphasises the role of images in reinforcing stereotypical viewpoints of Indigenous peoples, addressing the difficulties involved in representing identity when looking through a Eurocentric gaze. He subverts and reframes iconic Western imagery to reveal the concealed racial biases that have shaped how Indigenous peoples have historically been portrayed.

Baniwa uses an anthropophagic methodology in his art. In Brazil, anthropophagy was a ritual wherein the victors in war ingested captured warriors, thereby absorbing their powers. The artist disputes colonial logics through an Indigenous cosmogony, appropriating and transforming Western artistic styles to enhance the capacity of his own culture to gain independence from that of the European colonisers.

Prior to, and in parallel with, his artistic endeavours, Baniwa has been an activist involved in the struggle for the rights of Amazonian Indigenous peoples. He simultaneously operates inside and outside of his own culture so as to seize ideas and practices that can strengthen it.

Denilson Baniwa is an artist and advocate for Indigenous rights. His work has been exhibited at the Biennale of Sydney and the Bienal de São Paulo, as well as in museums and galleries in Brazil and Portugal. He is co-curator of the Brazilian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2024.
Denilson Baniwa, Pajé-Onça, da série Colheita maldita [Jaguar Shaman,from the series Damned Harvest], 2022. Courtesy of the artist
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