Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pathway 2: Politics and Protest

Oxlajuj B'aqtun
Origins has always been a political festival, and this year's programme particularly reflects the worldwide indigenous protest against continuing imperialism, economic colonisation, and the destruction of the environment.  Grupo Sotz'il, for example, are performing their great production Oxlajuj B'aqtun, which has been acclaimed across Latin America for its moving response to the genocide committed against the Mayan people of Guatemala, and especially the assassination in 2010 of the group's inspirational founder Lisandro Guarcax.  His words form the epigraph to their work: “We wish that all our efforts will be translated into the knowledge of the others”.
Winona LaDuke
Winona LaDuke, who gives this year's Origins Lecture, is probably the most important Native political leader in the United States.  Founder of the project Honour the Earth, Winona lives on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, where she practises an environmentally balanced lifestyle, at the same time as leading the protest against the destruction of indigenous lands, which is a threat not only to indigenous people, but to the whole of humanity.  She has twice stood as the Green candidate for the Vice-Presidency of the United States.  On 15th June, she will speak at Rich Mix about the indigenous approach to ecology, politics and protest in the 21st century.  And, if you want to know more about her, there's a film about her life too, called Thunderbird Woman.  

There are plenty of other talks with a political edge - but the one we'd particularly mention is the Menzies Centre talk with Indigenous Australian writer and campaigner David Milroy.  David has been involved with Origins from its inception, and is always fascinating and entertaining at once when he deal with his passion for Aboriginal land rights and cultural survival.
Our film programme is equally uncompromising in its approach to political questions.  Standstill, which opens the film festival on June 10th, find links between the long resistance of the Mohawk people to colonisation, and the current situation of the Palestinian people.  To view the Palestinians as the indigenous subjects of a colonial power throws a whole new light on the conflict there.

Benny Wenda and the Lani Singers
West Papua is another land where the indigenous people are fighting against aggressive colonialism today, and the Festival welcomes their exiled leader Benny Wenda - twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize - to the screening of The Road to Home, a documentary about his remarkable life, and to sing the songs of his native land at The Origins Concert.  Meeting Benny is an experience you will not forget.
Just Another Sámi
Closer to home, the Sámi people of the European Arctic are also engaged in a struggle for land, ecology and culture.   Norwegian company Ferske Scener's Just Another Sámi is a dramatic and musical howl of protest against oppression in lands surprisingly close to home.
Beautiful One Day
The Politics and Protest Pathway reaches through to the closing event of the Festival, brought to London from Australia's Torres Strait Islands by Ilbijerri Theatre Company.  Beautiful One Day is a protest against ongoing racism and the scandal of Aboriginal deaths in custody, starting from one particular death on Palm Island in 2004.  It is also a love letter to an environment and a way of living that somehow endure, in spite of everything.

After the Festival is over, the echoes of protest will remain.  Palpably so, in the form of Elliot Tupac's street art.  Elliott has re-defined mural painting in Latin America with his fusion of indigenous Andean art and the roar of the contemporary city.  Origins brings his work to London, leaving a lasting reminder of the Politics and Protest pathway.

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