La Wayaka Current is pleased to launch our 2018 artist-in-residence, interchange and research project at Tropic 8°N in the indigenous autonomous province and National Park of Guna Yala, Panama.
Participating artists will be selected from all around the globe to work on self-directed projects with correlating themes that respond to this environment.
We want to invite you to apply and look forward to meeting, sharing and working together in a communal setting in this exceptional environment.
April 24 – May 15, 2018
May 17 – June 7, 2018
June 10 – July 1, 2018
Later Dates TBC
Duration possible for 21 or 42 days.
1. Information on Location
We will be based in the indigenous autonomous territory of Guna Yala inside a community on the coastal region between Panama & Colombia. Our unique base for the research and development of creative projects exists at the gateway between South and Central America and 2018 will be it’s third year in operation.
The location was chosen for it’s extremity and remoteness alongside the interesting themes that have potential to be explored here. They encompass history, ecology, ocean & marine biology, indigenous issues & culture, influences of technology, socio-political themes and many other aspects that connect in this area.
The indigenous group that we are collaborating with are named The Guna’s. They fought a revolution in 1925 to protect their way of life and became the first politically autonomous indigenous group in Latin America. They protect a territory encompassing coastline, rainforest and over 365 islands. Their main source of income is through small-scale agriculture, the export of coconuts, fishing and tourism.
Although remote, the Guna’s have been in contact with the outside world for many years. Since historical moments such as the construction of the Panama Canal 1903 and the Congress’s education initiatives sending Gunas abroad to study since the 60’s & 70’s they have been exchanging with others from around the world for centuries whilst managing to maintain their traditional culture, knowledge and ways of life.
Due to the remote, difficult to access location and strong protection of the Gunas this region remains one of the richest biomes on the planet with ancient forests uninterrupted by industrial farming, roads or the commercial exploitation of valuable resources.
The Gunas live from subsistence based agriculture. A self-sufficiency farming system in which the farmers focus on growing enough food to feed themselves and their families. The output is mostly for local requirements with little or no surplus trade. They are protectors of nature, thus flora and fauna in this region is diverse and strong.
The Carribbean Sea is home to diverse species of corals and marine life, most notably this area is one of the worlds most important locations for the nesting of endangered sea turtles between March – June. The unique positioning of the village means it also sits on a river with fresh water tropical ecosystems.
There are also environmental concerns in the area that have implicated the Guna’s from the global & industrialised world such as ocean acidification, coral bleaching, plastic pollution and rise in sea levels for island communities that we are addressing through our project.
Geography inc. wider area
Armila is situated in the National Park – Parque National de Guna Yala – home to indigenous villages, coral reefs, wild tropical islands and untouched rainforest. During this project we will be based in a small intimate community of 600 people.
We are working in partnership with the community and their leaders as part of a larger community project in Armila – Turismo Indigena that aims to develop cultural tourism that benefits native people leading to economic stability and freedom to fight for and protect their territory and culture from state intervention.
As well as this we are working closely with a Guna family who are dedicated to working with sustainable, ecological and cultural tourism.
Amenities in the community include a local medical centre, military / police station and small convenience shops. The village is only accessible by boat (10 minutes) or trek from Puerto Obaldia (40 minutes) through the coastal forest.
In Puerto Obaldia there is a small airport, a frontier / border control, further medical assistance and small convenience shops. To the east of this town you will find small beach fishing villages of mixed afro-colombian and panamanian communities that also live predominantly from agriculture, fishing and tourism. To the west of Armila sits the entire archipelago of Guna Yala (Guna-Territory) that includes 365 islands and around 59 island and mainland communities.
We will be meeting at the port of Puerto Obaldia where we will enter into the protected area of Guna Yala.
– ARMILA, GUNA YALA, PANAMA. CENTRAL AMERICA.
Arrival & Departure.
All participants must send us an email in advance with the subject title Itinerary and your arrival / departure info. once you have scheduled your travel plans.
Tickets can be booked from Air Panama from Panama City, Albrook Airport – Puerto Obaldia.
(507) 316 9000
Due to the remote location there are only flights on Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday’s with limited availability. We recommend to book tickets well in advance and it is the participant’s responsibility to arrange their transport for when their residency begins and ends. Our local pick up by boat charter or guided trek through coastal forest (depending on sea conditions) from the port of Puerto Obaldia will run on set dates for participants.
Arrival in Puerto Obaldia on Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday depending on flights booked and start date of residency period.
Local pick up from Puerto Obaldia airport to Base in community of Armila.
Introduction & welcome upon arrival.
1-1 meetings with project co-ordinators to discuss ideas and themes relating to your work.
Self- directed practice. Here you will be able to carry out your project in a
self-directed way and manage your own time when developing work.
Group discussion and sharing of works may be initiated from time to time.
Drop off in Puerto Obaldia on Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday depending on flights booked and end date of residency period.
We have curated a diverse program of thematic talks, research trips and workshops to introduce participants to the area, community, indigenous culture, knowledge and environment to inform their self directed practice. Participants will also be free to organise their own exploration and research of the area based on their individual interests.
We will also introduce the local solar power projects and conservation projects in the area that include the protection of nesting sea turtles.
4. Living & Work Space
Living and work space will be basic, practical and communal. A large aspect of our project here is about communal living, understanding and sharing between one another. We encourage all our group members to act respectfully towards others in the group, the project co-ordinators and the local community. Participants will not be separate but completely immersed in Guna community life at this location.
Participants will be hosted in the community guest house. This will be an outdoor / camping way of life in a basic, traditionally built bamboo structure with palm thatched roof, shared toilet, showers, shared bedrooms, communal space, solar powered energy (limited) – light, power outlets, and personal padlocks for all rooms, for security of belongings. This is expedition style living meaning you will be sharing rooms – private rooms may be available depending on availability and will be with additional fee in advance. Couples can also be assigned private rooms depending on availability. Clean safe drinking water will also be provided.
Locally sourced ingredients will be provided and kitchen tasks such as cooking and cleaning will be split amongst the group at dinner times. Typical meals are Guna and Panamanian. The local diet consists of legumes, chicken, fish or seafood, accompanied by rice, and plantain. Breakfasts vary between bread and arepa / cornflour tortilla, accompanied with eggs, sausages, coffee or herbal tea. There are seasonal tropical fruits such as pineapple, papayas, bananas, mangoes and coconut.
(Please confirm with us in advance if you have medical requirements regarding your diet or if you are vegetarian)
Studio & Work Equipment
Work equipment available includes basic tools (tools used in the local area for building predominantly). Natural materials are available for artists to use in sustainable ways and there will be opportunities to experiment with local materials such as textiles, clay, bamboo, wood, palms etc.
Studio / Workspace
There will be a basic, open and communal studio workspace assigned for participants with desks and chairs.
Participants are also encouraged to use the surrounding nature and environment as their workspace and to work outdoors along the coast, in the neighbouring flora or within the community.
5. Key Information Information for participants
Participants will be in a remote location for this expedition, in close
connection with nature, There is no phone signal or internet, There is also no ATM after leaving Panama City, so it is important to be prepared.
We recommend for this location –
- Head Torch
- Insect Repellent
- Itch Relief cream
- Sunscreen 30+
- Travel Towel
- Sun Hat
- Long sleeved loose clothing for protection from UV and mosquitos
- Quick drying materials for humidity
- Sandals & comfortable shoes for walking
- Medicine / toiletries you need
- Cash with low denominations (recommended between 200 – 500 usd depending on personal spending)
- Water Bottle / Flask
- Ziplock Bags / Dry sacks for all valuables inc. professional equipment, phones, camera, laptop, passport etc.
- Basic / Non valuable clothing
- Ear plugs for noise at night
- Any Professional art supplies or equipment you might need
- Spanish travel dictionary
- Supplements / Vitamins or extra food supplies
- Water shoes
Health & Safety
We always operate in safe zones as recommended by the Foreign Office for Travel Advice and local authorities. We are working in partnership and under the support of The Tribal Congress of Guna Yala, local community leaders and local military / police base to carry out this project in a safe way.
All participants must take out travel insurance in case of any emergency or local flight cancellations. Please send us a PDF copy of your insurance before arrival.
All participants will be given a safety brief of the area upon arrival.
You can see here what vaccines are recommended for the location here –
Speak to your doctor if in doubt. Make sure you get any vaccines you need 4 – 6 weeks before you leave.
Your local contacts during this time will not only be working on the overarching project but will be committed to making you feel welcome and safe as an individual during your visit.
Victor Fernandez – (+56) 998957031
Sofie Iversen – (+44) 7808650370
Email is the most reliable form of contact for us as phone signal can be difficult in this location.
Cost and Support
We are a non-profit arts organisation and we subsidise costs through our project to keep the costs as low as possible for participants.
Participants are responsible for securing funding from their own countries. Many who have come with us have been successful at gaining funding from different cultural and arts institutions in their home countries.
The subsidised cost of the residency is currently –
- Accommodation (basic, communal with shared rooms)
- Reception in Puerto Obaldia Airport and transfer through a guided trek or charter boat. (depending on sea conditions) on set days / go and return.
- Food for communal cooking (3 meals a day)
- Communal Workspace – Artists should also find it an interesting concept to work outdoors, within the landscape, challenge their practice and create site specific work using limited tools and resources in the area.
- Experienced team of project co-ordinators with local community members to oversee the project, guide and assist with certain logistics.
- Research trips in surrounding area
- Thematic Talks
- Workshop and Activities within the community
- Taxes for Guna Yala Parque National and Armila Local community
Our project gives artists opportunities to apply for and receive funding support internationally to join us. In the past supporters such as Danish Arts Foundation, Swedish Arts Council, OCA Norway, Arts Council England, Wales and Australia, Slovenia have funded artists to join our projects. Others have also raised successful crowd funding campaigns to realise their projects with us and others find their own private ways of funding themselves.
If you are planning to apply for funds and would like advice on an application or require anything from us please don’t hesitate to ask us for guidance.
Expectations towards the artist
Those who apply will need to demonstrate their ability to be self-directed. We expect participants to come into the project with a basic knowledge and respect for the local area and culture. They must demonstrate the capacity to and be responsible for their own time planning, research, execution and production of works.
We expect participants to fill out a digital document after the completion of their residency about their experience and we invite all artists to apply with works to participate in future exhibitions with us.
We look forward to welcoming you into our world and introducing you to a wealth of new knowledge and inspiration at this unique location.
All our groups are encouraged to offer the upmost respect to local wishes and act responsibly when being granted the opportunity to live, learn and work in this village. We have an agreement with the community to trespass their wishes on to all our potential participants in 10 simple points:
- Please no photos focussing and zooming in on people you don’t know in the community without their permission. Act respectively, make a connection with someone first and offer something fair in exchange for their co-operation.
- Do not use photos or films for commercial gain or profit without contacting and getting permission from The General Congress, Guna Yala in Panama City first. Support and acknowledge them in your work.
- Respect the local area, their homes and environment, do not leave debris around and be responsible for tidying your working area and disposing of unwanted materials when you go.
- Please do not go alone to places that might put you at risk. The sea and jungle can be a dangerous place if you don’t know what you are doing. Always arrange to go with a local, knowledgable and responsible guide for your safety and everyones peace of mind in the community.
- Show respect towards sacred spaces, ceremonies or objects related to spiritual beliefs and customs. Ask permission before entering places or taking photos and be attentive to the cultural talks and awareness we are offering. Things that might not matter to you might be very important for us and the local society. Respect the areas of culture and community they like to keep private.
- Be conscious about your consumption, try to recycle what you use and not use plastic bottles. This is a remote area and culture in touch with nature that has been impacted by the industrialised world. There is currently no funding or support for infrastructure and troubles with rubbish disposal.
- Dress respectively while in the village and at public / sacred places. This includes not wearing bikinis, or being topless in the community, only on the beach.
- Please be tolerant towards all members of the community including towards children who run wild and play through the village.
- Understand and embrace the intimate and unique nature of this community, we live closely where people share and live communally. Come into this new environment in an open and non- judgemental way.
- Make an effort to speak some Spanish and native Guna while you are here (at least a few words) and act friendly.