Chosen Memories: Contemporary Latin American Art from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift and Beyond


Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe, Laura Anderson Barbata. Shapono. 1996, printed 2000 386

Cover: 11 1/8 × 8 3/4" (28.3 × 22.2 cm) (irreg.). The Museum of Modern Art Library, New York

Artist, Laura Anderson Barbata: When I first was in the Amazon of Venezuela, I was able to visit the school. And in the school I noticed that there were many books that the government sends. But the information contained is often obsolete and not useful in the community. And because they are single-use books, they create a new problem for the Yanomami community, which is how to dispose of them or discard them.

I proposed a project in which we could recycle the paper—give it a new use. We can make high quality natural fiber handmade paper so that they can together write their story, their history, whatever they wish to preserve in the written form. I facilitated workshops on how to make paper and drawing workshops. The whole community participated in the drawing and elaboration of the book.

Shapono means communal dwelling. This is the story of the first shapono as they learned from the brothers Omawe and Yoawe. It was important for us to have this story, which is traditionally told in an oral manner, to be retold collaboratively and in a communal setting.

Shapono won the Best Book of the Year award by the Centro Nacional de Libro in Venezuela. This book helped the Yanomami's voice and perspective to be seen and heard from the outside.

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