How did the 'No to Venezuelan Blood Gold' campaign start?
Updated: Dec 13, 2022
The No to Venezuelan Blood Gold campaign was born as a way to raise awareness of the human and environmental disaster occurring in the Orinoco Mining Arc in the Venezuelan Amazon.
The campaign comprises a live performance with a dress made entirely of worthless Venezuelan banknote, a contemporary dance video, and a call to action to stop trading illegal and uncontrolled mined 'blood gold’ from Venezuela. Further information about the campaign can be found in the link, here.
The campaign story... Bringing a new awareness campaign to life in 2022
My journey began in January this year when I contacted both of my good friends Jamy (from Venezuela) and Michelle (from Cambridge), and I expressed to them my desire to shine a light on the destruction of the Venezuelan Amazon by creating an ARTivist performance which would include a new money-dress.
I honestly did not know much about the topic of environmental destruction in the Amazon rainforest, but I felt so strongly called to act upon the indigenous people in Venezuela and the Amazon that I did not hesitate to go about contacting people to create something. What I did knew though was that a new money-dress in the shape of an animal was going to help make the problem of the Orinoco Mining Arc widely visible. I had as a reference, the success of the 'Hyperinflation Money-Dress' which has reached more than six hundred thousand people worldwide.
As Jamy and Michelle said yes, I immediately started studying everything I could about the Orinoco Mining Arc, the illegal mining and the horrific ecocide taking place. It was heartbreaking to learn how the mining practices are destroying the majestic rivers and lands of Southern Venezuela including national parks such as the Canaima national park, a UNESCO world heritage site, and the Orinoco river.
Not long after, I put together a brief for the project and reached out to local and international collaborators. It was so reassuring to find support from each person I contacted. It was particularly special for me, to gain support from Dr Eva Aymamy, Senior Lecturer in Dance at Anglia Ruskin University who was so welcoming and immediately became my point of contact for performance activism matters. I even spoke on the phone with the founders of organizations dedicated to stopping illegal mining in Venezuela, like SOS Orinoco and Embajadores del Orinoco.
During my research, I noticed there was a lack of artistic representation of this problem. I became ambitious and wanted to incorporate to the campaign a video dance in addition to the money-dress. I thought about a video dance because Jamy was studying contemporary dance at that moment, and saw an extraordinary opportunity for her to produce a work that would encourage her dancer friends to take part in this campaign too.
There was so much work that I had to do to bring this project to life. But to make this long story short for now, I will start by sharing that back then I had to commit more than 80 days of non-stop work without any funding to be able to prepare my campaign. I took this decision voluntarily and planned my time accordingly to deliver my message at the Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) Student Union’s Global Week event on March 31, 2022.
By the end of March 2022, I had formed a group of more than 12 people between Cambridge and Caracas, all of who actively contributed to the making and delivery of the 'No to Venezuela Blood Gold' campaign as it came to be known. It was a huge challenge due to the logistics, time constraints and the lack of financial resources, but in the end, we succeeded in performing at ARU's Global Week event as planned.
The team: An international and powerful group
I would like to dedicate this space to thank everyone who contributed to the development of this project.
I'm forever grateful to Jamy Ayala, Historian and Dancer who directed the dance video, built the team in Venezuela and also supported me throughout the creation of the campaign; and Dr Michelle Darlington, Educator and Artist who helped me design and make the ecocide money dress. A special thanks to Henry Williams, Historian who has provided insight into the topic and participated in the delivery of the performance, and Dr Eva Aymami, Senior Lecturer in Dance at ARU for her guidances.
I also would like to extend my thanks to Sofia for making the banners, donating a mannequin and her word of encouragement during the development of the campaign; Franchesco and George for the photo and video taken during the Anglia Ruskin event; The Venezuelan dancers (names in the photo above), who danced to tell the story of the impact of illegal mining on indigenous people; Valentina, Ed and Juan who filmed and edited the dance video, and Angel Hasegawa, musician who produced the soundtrack we use at our live events.
We are eager to present our ARTivist show in more places. Do get in touch today.
Where has the campaign been presented?
Anglia Ruskin University at the Student Union’s Global Week 2022, March 2022
Fitzwilliam Museum as part of the Museum Late and the Defaced! Money, Conflict, Protest' exhibition, Nov 2022
Cambridge Judge Business School in the Master of Studies in Social Innovation, Dec 2022
Photos were taken at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) last March 2022. This showcase marked the beginning of the 'No to Venezuelan Blood Gold' campaign.
We will be presenting at the Cambridge Festival next year in March 2023.
We are looking for venues to temporarily install the Ecocide Money-Dress as well as the Hyperinflation Money-Dress
We also plan to produce the performance in a digital format to spread the message widely.
If you can support to help us to achieve some of these goals, please do get in touch.