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From gold to silver

From gold to silver

Media: Video and objects

After having their gold plundered during the Spanish Empire, the Wounaan Nomam indigenous community found in the silver coins minted by the Iberians the raw material to make their own jewelry. In the midst of this paradoxical relationship, the small riverside community from today’s Chocó región in Colombia fashioned elaborate accessory and ritual pieces from the silver using the old goldsmith techniques with which they had once worked gold. As the centuries passed and the outbreak of the internal conflict began in Colombia – a mirroring of the Cold War – a Wounaan family must take refuge in the city of Cali, fleeing from a guerrilla war taking place in their territory. Arriving in the city means not only the loss of materials and tools but also the possibilities of continuing this jewelry practice. Mauricio Barqueño is a goldsmith from the Wounaan Nonam community, heir to this tradition, currently living in Cali with his family as a displaced person. Together with Mauricio, I have undertaken a project to recover this ancestral practice starting with the acquisition of materials and tools for the crafting of various jewelry pieces. The use of old Spanish and colonial coins form a fundamental part of the raw materials we are gathering.

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