Instituto Experimental Tropical del Amazonas

Mixed media installation with ink, texts, photos, jute fabric, string, handmade tropical fiber paper, Bixa Orellana spice, coconuts and human placenta print

This installation presents an archive of works, posters and documents from the Instituto Experimental Tropical del Amazonas, an imagined experimental art school that operated in the Amazon rainforest between 1935 and 1942.

Run by a team of feminist artists with a communal spirit, the Instituto’s members studied the properties of rich tropical materials, learning building and craft techniques with native populations (Makiritare, Ye’kuana and Yanomami) and setting out to re-imagine every aspect of living. Evoking the utopian aspects of the Bauhaus through a feminist, Latin American lens, the Instituto aimed to make art in concert with nature, within it and in contrast to it. Essential to the Instituto was the rotation of labor among the diverse group, including governance and instruction, as well as a commitment to gender balance and harmonious living.

Guest speakers included artists, architects, poets, craft experts and healers, ranging from Le Corbusier presenting his designs for University City and the Ministry of Education in Brazil; Sonia Delaunay presenting her everyday living art-design philosophy; Kanii, a craftsman comparing principles and symbolism in Yanomami and Ye’kuana weaving; and artist Joaquín Torres-García discussing his budding Escuela del Sur and his Circulo y Cuadrado collaborations. Photo credit: Gene Ogami.

On view at the 18th Street Arts Center, Atrium Gallery from February 24 until May 19, 2018