Water Community Museum, Renaico

Renaico is a small town located in the Araucania region, in Southern Chile. It also gives name to the river that crosses this town. The word Renaico comes from "Renai Ko" in Mapudungun, the language of the Mapuche indigenous people. Renai Ko means a place where a lot of water springs from the soil. This area is home to the largest forest industry in the country, which has caused severe drought, pollution in several rivers, and consequently it has ignited a violent social conflict between Chilean state and Mapuche communities in the area.

During a three months residency in Renaico, I worked with several associations, and schools and I contacted the activist group “Salvemos el río Renaico” (Let´s save Renaico river). Together, we founded the Water Community Museum - Renaico. The collection of the Museum is formed by old photographs of fishermen, boats and bathers; all donated by the residents. Children participated by creating paintings depicting the pollution of the river. The museum first opened at the riverbank in December 16, 2016. The opening included music bands performaces and a live painted mural, alongside with the exhibition of photographs and the screening of the documentary Save the Renaico River plus other two videos.

A selection of this collection has been presented in rural towns nearby Renaico, at the University of Concepción and at the University of Temuco, in Chile. We are currently searching for a location to install the Museum permanently. The aim is to create a space that not only would exhibit this collection, but also would be an active platform for different activities, such as environmental educational activities; a space for music and art projects that would engage with water issues, including a meeting point for environmental and Mapuche activists in the region.
Renaico, Chile 2016
Link to the artist blog page (in Spanish)
Link to the Water Community Museum - Renaico Facebook page (in Spanish)