Paraguay: Fredi Casco
The Chaco is a vast, barren and desolate border area between Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil. It has gone down in history as the setting for bloody wars and as a territory that harbours small indigenous communities as well as their rituals. Fredi Casco (Paraguay) has ventured into the lonely and phantasmagorical paths of the Paraguayan Chaco, documenting the celebration of Arete Guasu among the Chiriguano community of Santa Teresita. Following the rhythm of flutes and drums, Casco finds a Carnival where costumes, masks and dances saturate the arid landscape with colour and life. In order to protect their celebrations from colonial Christian intolerance, the Guaraní community incorporated medieval European items (cone-shaped hats and masks) to camouflage their indigenous festival with the trappings of the colonists’ Carnival. The criss-crossing mesh of influences is ongoing and the festival continues to invoke ancestral deities with updated costumes that include ornaments such as compact disks or Spiderman and Halloween masks derived from the dominant capitalist culture. The purity of this Carnival is not an indispensable requirement for the indigenous heritage to survive and continue in all of its splendor.
Still from the video Ghost Chaco, 2009, Video, courtesy of the artist.