Dear Earth artist in focus: Daiara Tukano

Artwork by Daiara Tukano on display at the Hayward Gallery as part of the exhibition, Dear Earth

Indigenous Brazilian artist, activist, educator and communicator Daiara Tukano – whose traditional name is Dihigô – is a member of the Uremiri Hãusiro Parameri clan of the Yepá Mahsã people (widely known as Tukano) from the Amazonian region of Alto Rio Negro.

Deeply informed by her ancestral culture – notably the centrality of the native medicine ayahuasca to religious, magical, curative, initiation and other traditional rituals – Tukano creates images base on the Hori, the introspective dream-like experiences induced by ayahuasca use, which amplifies visions and memories. 

She also draws from other aspects of her culture including paintings found in traditional objects, basket weaving, ceramics and body paintings, exploring their differing and complementary vibrations and the ways they touch at different levels. Her images are experiments in forms and light, intended to foreground the Indigenous traditions and spirituality which the artist seeks to keep alive and in dialogue with the contemporary present.

Artwork by Daiara Tukano on display at the Hayward Gallery as part of the exhibition, Dear Earth
Installation view of Daiara Tukano, Dear Earth at the Hayward Gallery, London (21 Jun –⁠ 3 Sep 2023). Photo by Pete Woodhead. Courtesy the Hayward Gallery / Southbank Centre

‘For us indigenous people, there is no word for art or an idea as art found in Western thinking,’ Tukano explained in a statement earlier this year. ‘I am interested in art as a platform for reaffirming narratives and political visions between and towards each other, so I believe art, by its nature, is also a space to be occupied by Indigenous peoples and a tool for us to deconstruct all the violences inflicted on us: of colonialism, racism, exclusion and silence’.

Tukano’s A large-scale eight metre mural of a forest holds space within the Hayward Gallery, framed by themes related to Indigenous people’s right to truth and memory. Tukano does not categorise what she creates as ‘art’ in the Western sense; rather, she sees her images as conveying messages that evoke aspects of existence usually invisible to the naked eye.


Installation view of Agnes Denes, Dear Earth: Art and Hope in a Time of Crisis (21 Jun –⁠ 3 Sep 2023). Photo: Mark Blower. Courtesy the Hayward Gallery.
Dear Earth

Tukano's work featured in Dear Earth, a group show featuring work from 15 artists, was at Hayward Gallery, 21 June – 3 September, 2023.

This article, written by Jareh Das, is taken from the Dear Earth catalogue, which features texts on each artist in the exhibition, and essays by Rachel Thomas, Rebecca Solnit, Maja and Reuben Fowkes, Greta Thunberg and Imani Jacqueline Brown. Also included are a conversion between artist Jenny Kendler and birder J. Drew Lanham, a manifesto by Agnes Denes, poetry by Deena Metzger and an extract from an interview on activism by Andrea Bowers.

A torso split into two with a green circle around the waist. The arms are holding two broken pieces with the world map on.
Dear Earth catalogue

The Dear Earth catalogue, published by Hayward Publishing, is available to purchase from the Southbank Centre shop.