They were few days since we were in Tierra del Fuego (fuerland) we had emigrated to the south because of the work of my parents .I was seven years old. Ushuaia was a small growing town. The coast and the woods were close from home.
I was with my brother, walking around trees when I saw something strange. To the left, few meters away, a family of naked people stepped in front of a wigwam made of branches was watching me in silence. Amazed I looked at the side, up hill, where my brother was, to know if he had seen the same, but was far away. I turned back the sight to that place, but there was nothing, and no one left. Time after, at the school I saw some pictures that coincide with that vision of a culture that called powerfully my attention.
That was the first time that I knew about the canoe people of the south. Maybe at that moment this sound piece began.
The yaghans were the southernmost tribe of the world. They lived in a labyrinth of islands at the south archipelago of Tierra del Fuego where the mountains of the Andes chain vanishes at the sea in small islands, before the violent encounter of two oceans.
The canoe was the most complex and important thing they had, most of their lives happened there. Made of cortex, it was fragile, light and fast.
Scant resources and awful weather conditions split the native people into isolated families, this structure was independent, closed and the only social organization.
They were Nomads of the sea, without religion, with no king, no writing and no past, moving in constant present, without desires of leaving trace.
On the contrary we find todays society, materialistic, surrounded by many cars (almost one per adult), urbanistically unorganized, socially unequal, without a defined identity, with roots everywhere, citizens from all over the country and the world sharing moments and leaving traces at every step in photographies, writings, sounds, trash,,,,
It is presumed that yaghans existence was from 6500 years ago until today, finally moving away from their natural way of life just around 100 years ago
The touristic slogan calls tierra del Fuego the end of the world. The region was allways a big mistery for explorers, adventurers and fortune seekers, that began to arrive modifying drastically the landscape.
Many stories had been written about the encounter of two opposite cultures, with an enormous incompatibility of coexist; but few had been explored about the acoustic transformation.
Historical acoustic exploration of the yaghan world and Tierra del Fuego`s life today, where sounds produce images and sensations, as a rhythmic representation of ordinariness in its cyclic and constant transformation. Understanding that evolution and progress not always appear together.
Listening Portrait of a place, anthropological curiosity, sociologic description, musical development, magic realism.
Trying to rescue the escence of telling stories to the next generations, as it used to be in the past, around a fire.
“Hamoni lapude anan” , means “we used to make canoes” in yaghan, considering the canoe as one of their main subjects, as a methaphor of ancient freedom, of their nomadic life and as a consequence of the end in sedentary life. Without sailing, the inside became inside.
Yaghan language is consdered isolated by many linguistics. Today there’s only one competent speaker of this ancient tongue. Her voice is listened in this piece, as a minimalist poetry, like a description of actions and situations. A woman speaking alone, trapped between two worlds, at the agony of her language.
The narrative is basically sonorous. A composition where there is not before and alter and time looses sense…
For one side exists a lineal story that takes the audience to a mythological yaghan past, their life integrated to nature until the arrival of withe men. Passing from the culture of the earth and its elements to a technologic society and its matter, changing in rhythm and sonority.
Invisible vibrations that give shape to things, describing places and situations, link the continuity of the statement that for ach listener will be different )even that the emotions can coincide).
Present time appears and disapears as a projection of the past, like the yaghans still being here, as my vision from infancy.
About the production and aditional information
It was produced with a big diversity of field recordings, made during the four seasons, discovering the acoustic environment in detail, finding intimate natural textures and general Ruggednesses of human noises floating at urbanity.
Mixing soundscapes, electroacustic music, radio drama, radio art, sound poetry and feature.
A deep research of sound archives around the world and from different time or epochs. (From records Made with wax sylinders 100 years ago until the recordings of chants and myths singed and spoken by the the three last speakers of this culture) was made.
More than 15 hours of interviews were compiled in 4 different countries (Argentina, Chile, Germany and England) to have different point of views from diverse profesions such us archeologists, anthropologists, musicians, sociologists, or descendants…. The whole production process was around one year. Also 8 books were read, 4 photograph archives were consulted… and many web sites.
It had the sound advise from Ernesto Piana (archealogist that spent more tan 35 years studying yaghan culture, doing many excavations) original archeaologist instruments from the culture were used.
Historical recordings used (given by the institutions or the authors) :
Recordings of Úrsula and Cristina Calderón (Museo Precolombino. Santiago. Chile).
Recordings made in wax cylinders between 1907 and 1923 by Charles Furlong and Martin Gusinde (Berlin Phonograph archive. Germany)
Linguistic record of Hermelinda Acuña, Cristina and Úrsula Calderón (Oscar Aguilera. Museo Martin Gusinde. Puerto Williams . Chile).
Recordings of myths and chants by Úrsula Calderón published at the cd Kuluana from the electronic duet del Lluvia Acida. (Punta Arenas. Chile)
- radio art