The underground “river” Rio Hamza was discovered in Brazil’s Amazon Basin in 2011. It is relegated to the status of “river” (as opposed to River) because it is really a 6000-kilometer-long aquifer, leisurely flowing along at a depth of 4000m. Its name is not even official. Along with the mighty Amazon River, the invisible Rio Hamza is part of the extremely rare occurrence of a twin river system moving at two different levels through the Earth’s crust.
Rio Hamza is an installation that unites three different narrative threads. First, it harks back to a 1998 oil painting the artist installed at the altar of São Paulo’s ancient Morumbi Chapel called Mantra. The 3.20 x 5.40 m canvas depicts a towering waterfall, pulsing and potent. Accompanied by a sound installation, it constitutes a natural “mantra” in the sacred space.
Second, Mantra was installed, in September 2017, in the Amazonian rainforest, between two “trees of life” (Buriti, from mburi’t in Tupi-Guarani). The nearly 20-year-old representation was thus re-injected back into the present nature it tries to capture.
Last, the work Mantra was installed in Paricatuba, a historical building that had succumbed to the encroaching nature. These narratives are brought together in a single installation in which the imagery from Mantra’s peregrinations are hung on sliding rails, creating a new body of imagery tackling the elusiveness of representation.
Rio Hamza is a work in progress.