Posted by: Ali | October 18, 2009

Amo Amazonia

So today was another adventure.  I like adventures!

On my Facebook page, I discovered an advertisement that said,

Participa en una Bandera Humana

Artista aéreo internacional viene a Perú para una obra de arte humano

Which means, “Come and Participate in a Human Flag.”  I will admit to being intrigued, so I investigated further.  Turns out, there is this NGO called Amo Amazonia that had some photographer coming in to do a publicity stunt by having all these people spell out words on the beach.  I convince my volunteers to come with me and off we go, with the promise of free t-shirts.

What's this?

What's this?

At the beach, we show up and are not sure we’re in the right place, since there are so few people there.  However, right after we get there, two tour buses show up and people just pour out.  We’re not really sure what the deal is, so we have a sit-down on the beach.

Signing our lives away.  Or signing a mailing list, I'm not sure.

Signing our lives away. Or signing a mailing list, I'm not sure.

I get bored and decide to go take pictures.  Then I see a man who seems to know what he’s doing, so I ask him if he works for the organization.  He says something like, no, he’s just here for the photography.  Being slightly bored, I ask him if he needs help.  He says, “yes, please!” and immediately sets me to work planting flags in the ground indicating where people will be standing.

Little flags

Little flags

So the man, who turns out to be an individual named John, is a photographer, or something, from LA.  I’m not positive exactly what he does other than order people around.  Anyways, let me tell you that watching him work with these Peruvians was my favourite thing EVER!!!  I’m really bad at describing, but think the most stereotypical artsy person or film director from Los Angeles, and that would be him.  He wanted everything done “now-now-now!” and he wanted everything “more” something.  More colourful, more dramatic, more spread out, whatever.  And he spoke about three words of Spanish and so every time he tried to talk to the people that had gathered it would be 95% in English, even when he was describing something he wanted them to do.  And no one would have a clue what he was talking about.  He would end all of his pep talks with “Amo Amazonia” and everybody would cheer because that was the only thing they could understand.

For example.  We were spelling out the words Amo Amazonia and there was a group who were a butterfly (I was a butterfly!).  He would go around to each group and tell them to do something.  He wanted ‘Amazonia’ to wave their hands in the air, and ‘Amo’ to grow like a flower, and the butterfly, ‘Mariposa’ to flap their arms like a butterfly.  So he would yell out, “Amazonia” and wave his arms.  And everybody would copy him.  And he would say, “good”, and move on to the next group.  “Mariposa!” he would say, and then flap his arms.  And everybody would flap their arms.  “Amo” he would say, and everybody would cheer.  It was really really funny to see the cultural clash of him wanting to do everything on LA time and all the Peruvians just kinda hanging out and watching.

This is John, discovering that in order to have something done right, you must do it yourself

This is John, discovering that in order to have something done right, you must do it yourself

So John puts me to work, which is fine.  I feel productive and helpful.  I meet a few people and wish that I had brought my business cards!  I steal some of my cards off the volunteers that came with me, and give out those few to a couple people who run NGOs here in Peru.  Yay, networking!  Then, when the flags are all set up, John announces that they need a photographer, and appoints me in charge.  I’m supposed to take candid shots of, specifically, “people smiling.”

Photographer Ali

Photographer Ali

So as a result, I have very few pictures on my own camera to share with you today, but I do have some!  And I will share them thusly.  Apparently we will be in the newspaper tomorrow, so I will see if I can procure a copy of that.  Also, photos will probably be up on the NGO’s webiste, http://amoamazonia.org/, soon enough.

So colourful!

So colourful!

I happened to be sitting near some awesome hippies that brought along drums for the occasion.

I happened to be sitting near some awesome hippies that brought along drums for the occasion.

So it went reasonably well for a few hours, and everyone started to get really bored and antsy.  People started leaving, or getting up and walking around.  Then John decided he wanted to try to shoot the image from a whole new angle so that he could get a different backdrop.  That was when all hell broke loose and people rebelled.  Mostly they just stopped listening, because he didn’t speak Spanish to begin with so it was easy to not understand.  Everyone was fed up with a half an hour of “just one more… just one more.”

I guess John got fed up too

I guess John got fed up too

But I’m sure they got more than enough photos!  I am excited to have been a part of such an adventure!

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