In the News

‘Tireless’ indigenous activist on climate change to speak at Smith College
By Anne-Gerard Flynn 7 February 2020

A Brazilian-born speaker and international advocate for the rights of indigenous people will give a talk on “Indigenous Women on the Front Lines of Climate Activism: The Battle for Environmental Justice in the Amazon” on Feb. 13 at Smith College.

Sônia Guajajara, an advocate for the indigenous in a country where economic woes contributed to the impeachment of one president and the rise of the current one — who wants to open indigenous lands for development — is a leader-in-residence Feb. 11 through 15 at the college’s Lewis Global Studies Center.

Joaquin Phoenix Makes Film with Extinction Rebellion and Amazon Watch
by Ada Recinos 6 February 2020

Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix has unveiled his next film after Joker – a short film urging action on the climate and ecological emergency – with Extinction Rebellion and Amazon Watch.

The two-minute short film, set in an emergency room, launches a new campaign to engage the public in different aspects of the climate and ecological emergency. It acts as a Public Service Announcement (PSA) for the plight of the Amazon and its indigenous communities and an alarm call for deforestation and biodiversity loss taking place in every corner of the globe as a result of devastating wildfires, droughts, floods, and storms.

Amazon tribes gather to plan resistance to Brazil government
by Leonardo Benassatto 14 January 2020

Brazilian indigenous leaders began a four-day tribal gathering in the Amazon on Tuesday to plan their opposition to far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s push to open their reservations for commercial mining and agriculture...“The year begins with this big meeting called by Raoni to draw up strategies to protect the Amazon from the threats, the criticism and the destruction that the Bolsonaro government is causing,” Sonia Guajajara, head of an umbrella group called the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), told Reuters en route to Xingu in the frontier state of Mato Grosso.

Brazil’s Amazon—and Its Defenders—Are Under Attack From Illegal Loggers
by César Muñoz Acebes 14 November 2019

Three-quarters of the original rainforest in the northeastern Brazilian state of Maranhão is gone, replaced mostly by cattle ranches.

One of the few remaining pristine patches lies within the Araribóia indigenous territory, an area larger than the U.S. state of Rhode Island that is the home to more than 10,000 Tenetehara and about 80 isolated Awá indigenous people.

But for years, loggers have been encroaching into Araribóia, bringing with them destruction and violence.

Ten Brazilian indigenous leaders protest in London
by Rosa Gauditano 14 November 2019

Ten indigenous leaders from across Brazil have taken part in a major protest outside the Brazilian Embassy in London to demand an end to the destruction of their lands and people.


At the demo the leaders handed in to the embassy the Racist of the Year award, which this year has been won by President Bolsonaro for his openly racist abuse of indigenous people and genocidal attacks on their rights.


Amazon native peoples call on EU parliament to protect their communities in Brazil
13 November 2019

The European Union should consider sanctions for companies that source materials from protected Brazilian forest reservations and native lands, an indigenous community representative said.

Sonia Guajajara, the head of APIB, which represents many of Brazil's 900,000 native people, called for EU lawmakers to exert pressure on Brazil's government to better protect the rights of indigenous communities and for scrutiny of companies profiting from deforestation in the Amazon.

Indigenous leader calls for EU action against firms over Brazil deforestation
by Sarah White 11 November 2019

PARIS (Reuters) - The European Union should consider sanctions for companies that source materials from protected Brazilian forest reservations and native lands, an indigenous community representative said.

Sonia Guajajara, the head of APIB, which represents many of Brazil’s 900,000 native people, called on Monday for EU lawmakers to exert pressure on Brazil’s government to better protect the rights of indigenous communities and for scrutiny of companies profiting from deforestation in the Amazon.

“We are calling on the European community to support us so that each of them in their country can pressure companies, pressure parliamentarians, so they can adopts laws that guarantee the traceability of products and their production chain,” she told Reuters in an interview.

Indigenous leaders seek European support for Brazil's Amazon
5 November 2019

A delegation of indigenous leaders said on Tuesday they are seeking to recruit European political support against incursions by loggers and cattle ranchers in the Brazilian Amazon and the destruction of rainforest.


Sonia Guajajara, a former Brazilian vice presidential candidate and a prominent voice in efforts to protect the Amazon, told The Associated Press her group will visit a dozen European countries in a 35-day tour. Many European countries have invested in rainforest protection programmes.

‘Guardian of the Forest’ ambushed and murdered in Brazilian Amazon
by Karla Mendes on 2 November 2019

A young indigenous Guajajara leader was murdered reportedly by loggers Friday in the Brazilian Amazon, raising concerns about escalating violence against forest protectors under the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.

Paulo Paulino Guajajara, 26-years-old, was shot in the head and killed in an ambush in the Araribóia Indigenous Reserve, in the Northeast state of Maranhão, indigenous chief Olímpio Iwyramu Guajajara confirmed to Mongabay. The murder was also confirmed on Friday night by Mídia Índia, a collective of indigenous communicators of various ethnicities.

Identity Politics and Cultural Hybridity in Zheng Bo’s Sing for Her
by Yeung Tin Ping 2019

For half a year between 2015 and 2016 at the hectic intersection of Nathan Road and Art Square in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui District, passers-by of various ethnicities, nationalities, and occupations were interrupted by loud waves of sound. Looking around for the sound source, they were confronted by a colossal, rusted funnel-shaped structure that unapologetically cut into the cityscape. A socially engaged public installation by Zheng Bo titled Sing for Her, this spectacular artwork invited passers-by to sing along karaoke-style to the soundtracks of seven songs performed by seven “minority” groups who are resident in Hong Kong.1 Zheng Bo’s aim was to give voice to those labelled minorities by asking participants, many of whom were not minorities, to sing for and with them.

Plant Porn 'People have a problem with plant sex, but not with eating plants'

Chinese artist Zheng Bo films men having sex with ferns. For him, "Plant Porn" is more than just physical satisfaction. It's about environmental protection, politics and historical awareness 

A work by the Chinese artist Zheng Bo is causing a sensation in Berlin's Gropius Bau. Young naked men with ferns have fun on screens. They lick the leaves, bite into them, wrap them around their penis. What is that supposed to do? We spoke to Zheng Bo.  

Species that are scattered locally but internationally. Zheng Bo interview
by Tomohisa Sato 18 July 2019

A carrier of ​socially engaged art in China, Zheng Bo who has linked the interest in marginalized groups and plants with the investigation of past things. This time, I asked the artist who held the first solo exhibition in Japan based on his stay survey in Kyoto about his ideas for his work and production. 

Zheng Bo was born in Beijing in 1974 and is an artist, researcher and university teacher who lives in Hong Kong. While presenting works at various international exhibitions such as "Manifesta 12" (Palermo), "Cosmopolis# 1.5" (Chengdu) "The 11th Taipei Biennale"(all 2018), he taught at the Faculty of Creative Media at Hong Kong Jiaocheng University Take He prefers the title "art maker" than "artist".

Zheng Bo in Conversation
by Jareh Das 24 May 2019

Hong Kong-based artist Zheng Bo's social, ecological, and community-engaged art practice has, in recent years, focused on moving beyond a human-centred perspective to an all-inclusive, multi-species approach. He takes up marginalised plants and communities of people as subjects in his large-scale interventions, which reintroduce wildness into institutional and abandoned spaces. Plants Living in Shanghai (2013), for example, was an intervention Zheng realised at an abandoned Shanghai cement factory as part of the 2013 West Bund Architecture and Contemporary Art Biennale, for which he preserved the site for a period of time before its intended transformation into a bustling public plaza. Zheng introduced more local plant species to the site, turning it into a community botanical garden, and to further contextualise the project, collaborated with local scholars specialised in ecology, literature, Chinese medicine, and architecture to organise an eight-week online course on MOOC with on-site activities taking place every Sunday. This served as a way to investigate the past and activate present-day social and environmental issues in Shanghai through its plants.

What Moved Me
by Toyin Ojih Odutola 5 October 2018

You hear it before you see it. There are these moans and grunts and you’re like, “What is going on?” And then you just arrive at it. You see a screen through the bamboo trees, and you enter the enclave, with well-hidden speakers around it. I saw it just by happenstance, walking through the botanical gardens in Palermo for the Manifesta art biennial, and I was completely transfixed by it.

The video installation features men interacting with a forest: licking the plants, hugging them. You’re seeing these men, who are naked, so the whole thing seems very sexual, but when you start watching it — this film is about 10 minutes, maybe? — you realize that’s just the surface. It’s about this yearning that people have to connect with someone or something. In our contemporary life, there is such a distance now, or they’re a lot more guarded when it comes to opening themselves up to that kind of vulnerability.

Plants, Sites and Political Discourses: A conversation with Artist Zheng Bo
by YANG Jing 2018

Hong Kong based Chinese artist Zheng Bo is committed to socially and ecologically engaged art. He investigates the past and imagines the future from the perspectives of marginalized communities and marginalized plants. He has worked with a number of museums and art spaces in Asia and Europe, most recently TheCube Project Space (Taipei), the Power Station of Art (Shanghai), the Sifang Art Museum (Nanjing), the Times Museum (Guangzhou), the Cass Sculpture Foundation (Chichester, UK), and Villa Vassilieff (Paris).

Embedded in Society's 'New Public Art': Notes on Zheng Bo
by Ella Liao Winter 2015

Zheng Bo is not a prolific artist. He maintains a certain distance from artistic circles, yet he has studied and practiced socially engaged art for over a decade. When conversing with Zheng Bo, it is very difficult to draw any assumptions about his back­ground based on his accent, behavior, or mindset; it is as if there are too many clues. 

Lewis Global Studies Center

Smith College

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