When Culture Becomes a Work of Art

Celebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here’s a program from our archives.When Culture Becomes a Work of ArtYekuana music, deer bone flute.We’re listening to music of the Yekuana People, who live in southern Venezuela at the headwaters of the Orinoco River. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Guss: “The Yekuana’s culture has, along with many, many other indigenous cultures of both North and South America, very successfully adapted to their environment. There’s a lot to be learned in terms of how that adaptation takes place culturally, how it’s communicated to the people who live in the Yekuana society.” Author and anthropologist David Guss has lived and worked with the Yekuana over the past fifteen years.Guss: “In a culture where one doesn’t have a concept of art, where one doesn’t have a concept of many different separate and specialized activities, all of these activities, the culture itself becomes a work of art. When we think of hand-made objects, we think in terms of the notion that there are objects which are not hand-made. And so, amongst the Yekuana, all objects are hand-made so that there’s absolutely no object or no aspects of their culture which is not created. There is nothing which is store-bought, or nothing which is purchased. There’s nothing which comes from outside and then is used in order to make some other type of creation. So everything is a hand-made object. Everything in the culture is created. Everything undergoes some process of transformation which we think of as the artistic action.”This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

When Culture Becomes a Work of Art

Among the Yekuana People of southern Venezuela, every object is hand-made. This archival program is part of Pulse of the Planet's 30th anniversary celebration. David Guss is a professor emeritus at Tufts University.
Air Date:06/25/2018
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Transcript:

Celebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here's a program from our archives.When Culture Becomes a Work of ArtYekuana music, deer bone flute.We're listening to music of the Yekuana People, who live in southern Venezuela at the headwaters of the Orinoco River. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Guss: "The Yekuana's culture has, along with many, many other indigenous cultures of both North and South America, very successfully adapted to their environment. There's a lot to be learned in terms of how that adaptation takes place culturally, how it's communicated to the people who live in the Yekuana society." Author and anthropologist David Guss has lived and worked with the Yekuana over the past fifteen years.Guss: "In a culture where one doesn't have a concept of art, where one doesn't have a concept of many different separate and specialized activities, all of these activities, the culture itself becomes a work of art. When we think of hand-made objects, we think in terms of the notion that there are objects which are not hand-made. And so, amongst the Yekuana, all objects are hand-made so that there's absolutely no object or no aspects of their culture which is not created. There is nothing which is store-bought, or nothing which is purchased. There's nothing which comes from outside and then is used in order to make some other type of creation. So everything is a hand-made object. Everything in the culture is created. Everything undergoes some process of transformation which we think of as the artistic action."This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.