Virtual Sanctuary for Fertilizing Mourning

Eliana Otta

Virtual Sanctuary for Fertilizing Mourning aims to become a virtual space to commemorate the deaths of Indigenous leaders assassinated in recent years in Peru, when defending their territories from deforestation, mining and other extractivist activities.

Working closely with their families and communities, we would create virtual tours of the areas they aimed to protect. Each tour would be different, trying to reflect each leaders’ universe, deeply informed by their territory, collective activities, and more-than-human bonds. Oral histories, remembrance, songs, and all kinds of information that the communities find adequate to share with others, will be used to develop a portal into ways of life that are threatened by extinction, but also, to hint toward the invisible, magical, and affectionate threads sustaining them. 

Working with the Driving the Human partner institutions, we would develop an immersive way to offer such tours online, so that remembering the deceased can inform the rich worlds to which they belonged. Hopefully, providing access to such particular universes will make clearer the importance of the battles happening daily in the world, under the most unfair and precarious circumstances. As a Peruvian artist living in Europe, I encounter here approaches to what is called nature or ecology still insufficient to the urgency of contemporary planetary challenges. Not only usually anthropo-Eurocentric but mostly apparently unaware that on other continents the ongoing struggles regarding such issues are literally matters of life and death. The peoples that until now defend life as a whole, understanding humans as a tiny part of it, face daily apocalypses. 

While this continent begins to consider “end of the world” imaginaries due to global warming and Covid-19, in others, peoples have faced their worlds ending for centuries, while defending their lives and the deep webs of relationality that make them possible. In a period of crisis in civilization, I believe these are the peoples we must turn our heads to, paying attention to their knowledges, listening to their claims, learning from their practices, following their dreams, and honoring their deaths. This project is in an initial phase: important contact has been established with the Asháninka community Nuevo Amanecer Hawai in central Peru, where the leaders Mauro Pío and Gonzalo Pío, father and son, were murdered in 2013 and 2020, respectively. This is where these images come from. They are shared responding to the community’s request of reaching the widest possible audience.

(header photo: Ernesto Jimenez)


Latest project updatesView all articles

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)


Project Credits

Eliana Otta 

Video edition and direction
Eliana Otta 

Documentation in the field
Diego Vizcarra

Beatríz Pío Flores, Víctor Pío Flores, Jhover Meléndez, Diego Vizcarra, Dr. Denise Quistorp (Österreichisches Kulturforum Berlin)