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Gold Fevers in Black and White


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Anchor 1

This project focuses on the life, work and death of the poet José Eustasio Rivera. It studies them as elements of a cultural molecule, ideal (according by the premise supported by this project) to understand the influence of the modern world on the most precious ecosystems in Latin America.

Besides being a tribute, part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of his  novel:

La Vorágine* (1924), this project is conceived as a chronological interpretation of the influence of modern-industrial societies  over Amazonia for the past century (approx).

*Translated to the English as The Vortex

J.E. Rivera's life as a cultural molecule (detail)

Production / aim

Anchor 2

The main objective of this project is the production of a documentary film. This process will involve the creation of educational videos; ongoing recorded discussions with academics, journalists and artists; the release of  periodic artworks, which will be used for the promotion of the project, as well as for the organisation of workshops following the model: games of collective creation*, with a special series designed in celebration of the work of José Eustasio Rivera and his visceral portrayal of the exploitation of rubber in the Amazon at the turn of the 20th century.

*For more information about these games visit:

Samples of games: scene from La Vorágine, El Cementerio Campesino (the Peasant's Graveyard)


Timeframe / context

Anchor 3

In the near future, there will be two major celebrations regarding the life and work of  José Eustasio Rivera: in 2024 it will be the centennial anniversary of the publication of

La Vorágine and in 2028 it will be the centenary of his death. 


Anchor 4

The project is divided in two parts. In the first part the goal is to dissect the life, work and death of José Eustasio Rivera, focusing on five major influences that acted upon his generation (and still affect the contemporary Colombian society). These are: (a) the violence that is portrayed as the major force that drives the stories of both Colombia and La Vorágine; (b) the influence of the modern world explained through the saga of Western explorers in Amazonia; (c) the figure of the caudillo as part of a broader phenomenon of political sectarianism and the persistence of multiple socioeconomic factors of a feudalist nature in Colombia well into the 21st century; (d) the establishment of the Colombian national borders (and the relationship with the nation’s neighbouring countries) and (e) the influence of foreign powers, which is divided by the direct influence of foreign governments such as those of the UK and the US and the effects of the process of economic and technological globalisation that, in many ways, has defined the modern world*.

Animated excerpts from: What lies beyond The Vortex

For the second part, the plan is to gather testimonies from different creators and/or activists, whose works are either inspired by or produced with the aim to protect and/or restore the Amazon rainforest. As a starting point, I have started to collaborate with Josefina Perdomo Rivera, who shares a family connection with Rivera. She is the founder and director of the project: Woman, Mistery of Love who Gives Life to Life from the organisation: Women for Peace. For the past two decades, Josefina has worked with communities from the south of Colombia, in regions historically affected by the country’s internal conflict. She spends most of her time in the town of Cartagena del Chairá**, working in projects of community development, particularly with women head-of-home who are also victims of the conflict. Through her (and in partnership with her) we have started working with Manuel Sueche, who is a community leader from the Uitoto Minika people, based in La Chorrera***.     

I have also been building other partnerships with other creators such as educator and documentary-maker: Robert Max Steenkist, who is also working on creative projects based on La Vorágine, Rivera and era of rubber exploitation; Mauricio Leiva-Cock, who is one of the creators of the Netflix original series Frontera Verde: Green Frontier. I have also been in contact with the president of the Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Paz (INDEPAZ), Camilo González Posso, who has conducted research and developed community projects in the South of Colombia, in regions affected by the country’s internal conflict.

*For a general view of the project’s structure, you may read the article What Lies Beyond the Vortex, published in Overland Literary Journal on June 2021:

**This town was one of the epicentres at the peak of the conflict between the Colombian armed forces, paramilitary groups and the Farc guerrillas and it’s located in the middle of a major corridor for the cocaine trade.

*** This place was the main storing centre of the Arana House during the decades of rubber exploitation in the region of Putumayo and today stands as an indigenous reservation and hosts a museum and memory centre. 

Motivation / origin

Anchor 5

My motivation to undertake this project relates, to a great extent, to the author: José Eustasio Rivera (1888 - 1928), with whom I share common ancestry. Besides, this work follows up on ideas explored in my doctoral research, where I studied the often contradictory relation between history and memory, under the light of three artworks produced in Colombia during the twentieth century. These were: (a) the chapter in the novel Changó el Gran Putas (1983) that focuses on the relationship between Simón Bolívar and Admiral José Prudencio Padilla; the depiction of the Banana Massacre in One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and the comedy sketches of the late humorist Jaime Garzón, produced in the 1990s and currently available in Youtube*.









delGranEspiralcon 3 artists(ENG) copy.jpg

The analysis of these major artworks (or rather fragments of such artworks), revolved around Marshall McLuhan’s definition of artists as societies’ early-warning systems. This project, therefore, recognises and celebrates La Vorágine not only as a literary master piece, but as a moral beacon that remains as relevant today as it was a century ago. In accordance, it aims to capture some of the light that a century ago Rivera projected on the reality of the victims of one of the darkest chapters in the history of Latin America.


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