Virtual Sanctuary for Fertilizing Mourning

Eliana Otta

Virtual Sanctuary for Fertilizing Mourning was created with the intention of commemorating the deaths of indigenous leaders and environmental activists assassinated in recent years in Peru, while defending their territories from deforestation, mining, and drug trafficking.

Over the course of a year and a half, we worked together with their families and communities to create virtual tours of the areas they strove to protect, now hosted in a website called Luto Verde. Every tour is different, trying to reflect each community’s own universe, uniquely shaped by its territory, collective activities, and more-than- human bonds. Oral histories, remembrance, songs, and all the information that the communities found suitable to share, were used to develop portals into ways of life that are now threatened, but also to convey the invisible and affectionate threads sustaining them. The recorded material additionally shows the effects of extractivism and corruption in places where nature is treated merely as an infinite source of resources and profit. Besides the website, Virtual Sanctuary for Fertilizing Mourning is constituted by its research activities, texts about its work with the different communities, sound pieces, drawings, and a site-specific installation at the Berlin venue silent green.

This project has emerged from the conviction that remembering the deceased can be a way to learn from and defend the precious territories and cultures to which they belonged. Getting to know their communities, even from afar, will hopefully highlight the important daily battles they face in defense of the Amazon under the most precarious circumstances. By mourning the lives of Mauro Pío, Gonzalo Pío, Arbildo Meléndez, Yenes Ríos, Herasmo García, and Santiago Vega, we aim to help fertilize the grounds for the ways of living they defended.



Eliana Otta (Lima, 1981) is an artist with a Master in Cultural Studies, who inquiries about our relations with nature and precarious labor in neoliberal, extractivist economies, and also gender inequality, intersecting feminism, poetry and politics. She addresses these questions creating spaces for conversation, trust and curiosity through shared intimacy, with projects that involve pedagogical, curatorial and editorial work. Her current PhD project Lost & Shared: A laboratory for collective mourning, towards affective and transformative politics, aims to investigate the ways in which art can enable the collectivization of mourning, creating dialogues between theory and affective labor, through collective experiments that connect emotions, critical thinking, body and space. She coordinated the curatorial team of Lugar de la Memoria (Museum of Memory) in Peru (, has taught at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and co-founded the artist-run space Bisagra ( She is currently Candidate at the Phd in Practice Program at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. She is represented by the Galería 80m2 Livia Benavides. She founded the first shop dedicated to young fashion designers in Lima, Pulga, and has an eternally amateur alter ego, dj Flaquita.

(photo: Camille Blake)



Concept, camera, edition, texts
Eliana Otta 

3D captures, production assistance, color correction, permanent advisor
Nuno Cassola 

Sound correction
Dion Christodoulatos

Translation from Ashaninka

Translation from Cacataibo
Yuliza Meléndez 

Translation from English and subtitling
Santiago Guerra

Research, additional camera
Diego Vizcarra 

Post-production assistance
Nickos Myrtou 

3D reconstruction, web design and programming
Hermanos Magia, with the direction of Gabriel Alayza


Carmen Loyola 
Leader Emilio Maraví and members of the Nuevo Amanecer Hawai community
Leader Marcelino Tangoa and members of the Unipacuyacu community
Leader Elías Mozoline and members of the Puerto Nuevo community
Leader German Guerra and members of the Sinchi Roca I community
This project was made possible thanks to Driving the Human. 
Special thanks to Freo Majer, Nikola Joetze, and the DTH team.