UÝRA’S HYDBRID UNIVERSES AND CREATURES
The Currier Museum of Art announces the first solo exhibition of UÝRA (they/them/their) in a US institution.
The exhibition is curated by Lorenzo Fusi, and will include a comprehensive selection of photographs and videos encompassing UÝRA’s entire artistic trajectory, with work from many of their past performances and recent appearances. The photos will create an immersive and visually compelling environment complemented by two video excerpts from the documentary UÝRA: The Rising Forest (2022), directed by Juliana Curi.
UÝRA (b. 1991, Santarém, Brazil) is an Indigenous visual artist, performer, biologist, activist, and art educator. Their social name and artistic alias, UÝRA, originally derives from the ancient Tupi language and means “flying insect or animal.” The artist is also known as the walking tree or the tree that walks. “A walking tree breaks the Western, Eurocentric, colonial thinking mould that envisions trees as stationary, motionless organisms. By turning into UÝRA, I want to highlight how Indigenous bodies have always […] moved independently from colonialism,” the artist recently stated in an interview with Cultural Survival Quarterly to explain the motives behind their chosen identity.
The artist presently resides in Manaus, an industrial territory in the centre of the Amazon, where they actively work with the local communities and youth groups on land and water preservation, Indigenous and LGBTQ2S rights, racial and gender equality, while also exposing and trying to heal from systemic colonial diseases, such as deforestation, industrial pollution, and dispossession. Their work focuses on the diasporic experience of the Indigenous communities in Brazil and globally as a result of their historical oppression and forced displacement. The artist’s chameleonic transformations are an act of resistance against the structures of oppression and exploitative systems established by settlers’ culture. Embodiment and participation are central elements in their practice, along with environmental research, art education, and confronting racism and transphobia.
UÝRA is a gender-fluid interspecies artistic persona that eludes fixed classifications and challenges binary oppositional systems (human/not-human, male/female, etc). The artist uses organic elements (such as foliage, bark, fibres, plumage, and natural dyes) to create elaborate costumes that blur conventional separations between humans, animals, and plants. The hybrid creatures thus created freely move and operate between the forest and the city, ultimately commenting on the impact of anthropocentrism and industrialization. By creating photo-performances (actions only performed for the camera often shot in remote parts of the forest) and performances with a live audience, the artist is interested in showcasing how all living systems are deeply interconnected and ultimately interdependent. Their work celebrates diversity, dissidence, and adaptation as a survival strategy.