From the Amazon in Brazil, to the Serranía de las Quinchas in Colombia: Why we should stop blaming deforestation to impoverished rural communities.

By: Juan Felipe Riaño Landazabal, Master Student Universidad Javeriana

In 2019, daunting photos of a fire-consumed Amazon made the frontpage[1] on the world’s top newspapers[2]. The fires triggered global concerns about the deforestation rates of the Amazon rainforest, especially under Brazil’s far-right president Bolsonaro, who has publicly stated that the country’s protected areas are an obstacle to economic growth and need to be opened up for commercial exploitation. While the fires drew all eyes to Brazil, they also raised concerns about the overall state of the world’s rainforest. Unsurprisingly, these concerns unveiled a far more disturbing reality[3]: Despite a growing number of zero-deforestation commitments by State and non-State actors, primary rainforest loss hit record highs in 2016 and 2017 and remained above the historical level in 2018.

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Disonancia Sugerida, experimento artístico en el espacio intermedio

Suggested Dissonance is an invitation to an artistic research process by sharing cross-sectional narratives to questions and encounters. This path will take us through the forest, the relational, the interdisciplinary, the sense of belonging, the notion of place, exchange and dialogue between different kinds of knowledge which are intertwined concepts in a space in between. This collective ritual offers the opportunity for participants to become active agents in this shared multisensory experience.

This event is part of the project “Colombia BioResilience: Biodiversity resilience and ecosystem services in post-conflict socio-ecological systems in Colombia”, an interdisciplinary collaboration between the University of Bristol and University of Exeter (United Kingdom), which has given the opportunity to the artist Seila Fernández Arconada to generate this research during her placement at the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute (Colombia).


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Collaboration with San Bartolomé School

San Bartolomé is the oldest school in Bogotá which laid the first stone to the later universities such as Universidad Nacional and Javeriana. Dr. Dunia Urrego suggested this school as a context for collaborative dialogue. This process began with a number of meetings with the Dean, Father Juan Manuel and the Director Wilson Alonso. 

The first meeting was based on a presentation of the project and previous projects I have done in order to illustrate examples for possible ideas of interest. There was a shared interest in collaborative practices in order to generate between spaces for reflection, creation and exchange. In the school, some teachers had made pilot programs experimenting with pedagogy using transversal programs trying to implement interdisciplinary projects, creative forms of engagement and experiential and multisensorial processes with nature. This ground was a “meeting point” from which a number of meetings took place in order to think collectively on ideas and structures that could be applied in the classroom and furthermore structures at the school. 


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Presentation, deep mapping

I was asked to present a “work in progress” intervention in the Social Sciences team meeting at the Instituto Humboldt. This presentation was included in the section“Knowledge systems”. 

For this presentation I followed a deep mapping strategy trying to generate further transversal narratives across concepts, questions, methods and encounters; ingredients that feed the following outcomes of this placement. The following paragraphs are the presentation  (in Spanish).

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Resilience workshop

This workshop was facilitated by Olga Lucia Hernandez and Seila Fernández Arconada with a number of previous discussions between Mónica Amador, Olga Lucia Hernández, Alejandra Osejo y Seila Fernández Arconada in order to accomplish the program of the day.

There was an intervention at the windows of the workshop room. Each window holds a concept that is over-layered with the forest behind. The difficulty of reading depending on the close focus; interferences are always present but even behind in this case (and others) the most important thing is what we are working for, the forest. This metaphor nevertheless is a glimpse to accompany the journey across concepts including multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, forest, resilience among other conceptual representations that bring all participants to the here-and-now and the aim of collaborating during this workshop and beyond.

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Meeting the research components

First virtual meetings are already taking place. The aim is to understand all components of the team looking for ways to integrate and generate spaces in between disciplines. 

How can an artist contribute in such a project? What has been tackled in the project so far? What do we mean by interdisciplinary collaboration? What are the research disciplinary components focusing on? 









Disciplinary strategies and objectives

Interdisciplinary process

Art as practice based research 




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