Upper Amazon - New Orleans, LA - Austin, TX - New York, NY - 2009-2010
20 person hammock made from wild harvested palm fibers spun and woven by hand
Made in collaboration with the community Zapara, Hammock Mother is a giant hammock for 20 or so people to rest in at once. The Zapara live in a remote region of the upper Amazon between Peru and Ecuador. To create the immense hammock, the Zapara have utilized their traditional weaving methods with the native palm fiber chambira, a sustainable wild harvested material. This extremely strong fiber is the new growth of the palm, therefore they do not cut the tree rather just take the interior leaves which immediately grow back. Shaman and community leader, Gloria Ushigua helped to manage the project. Gloria Ushigua also serves as a representative at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, a high level body of the UN. The Zapara are struggling to maintain control of their territory. Only a century ago they were a numerous people in the region, numbering over 20,000; today they are 350. This piece was also created in part to shed light on the condition of the land and its people and engage the young in a workshop of a fading traditional craft. Our hope was also to initiate a women’s craft collective with Hammock Mother as a launching pad. Only hours following it's premiere in city park New Orleans, Hammock Mother was vandalized. After a period of grief about how so much collected energy could be so quickly and thoughtlessly violated, this incident imputed new meaning upon the object. Hammock Mother had absorbed what one might argue is a destructive tendency present in American culture, and this assault mirrors the threatened condition of the Zapara people's and the forest's own existence; the remains of Hammock Mother symbolically attest to these fraught histories.