Deer Ones documentary
Activist artist Vincent Mock is fascinated by the beauty of nature, and has great respect for all things alive. His sense of responsibility as an environmentalist is always reflected in his work. Inspired by the documentaries of Jacques Cousteau and David Attenborough he changed his comfortable life in Amsterdam for the African savanna, where he worked in nature reserves to protect rhinos. He spent hour after hour in the ocean to admire and undergo underwater life. Since his early childhood, he has been diving into the world of fossils. All these experiences are at the core of his work.
Vincent Mock uses his art to express his concerns about the imbalance between the natural world and humanity. He reminds us of our interdependence with the natural world, the link to which we are losing.
In 2016, through a chance encounter, Vincent connected with the Huichol Indians from the Mexican Sierra Madre, one of the last surviving indigenous people in the world. This tribe has managed to preserve its way of life for centuries, but is now threatened in their existence. As he spent more time with them, the artist got fascinated by their traditions, lives, and art, that go back over 5,000 years. With the Huichol people, Vincent uncovers the worship of deer, the art of beading, and the powers of the peyote cactus.
Motivated by a spiritual ceremony that entailed a hallucinogenic peyote trip, Vincent decided to create a piece of art to raise awareness for the Huichol Indians. A key element of the Huichol spiritual world is Kauyumari, the Blue Deer, the divine spirit guide who leads the Huichol shamans on their visionary pathways. Vincent decided to follow this thread of inspiration for his newest project, called Kauyumari.
The journey starts with the purchase of a pair of giant deer antlers, a megaloceros, no less than 20,000 years old. Vincent asks the Huichol people to decorate it with their traditional art, using colorful glass beads. It is through the Kauyumari project that he meets and bonds with his fellow Huichol artist Ocaviano ViLopez, who is to play a crucial role in the art project. This is how their worlds, their art, and their visions collide.
As the project evolves, questions about traditions, environmental struggles, and personal and spiritual growth arise. The documentary follows the art project, the personal journeys of Vincent and Octaviano, and the developments around the indigenous tribe.
Due to their traditional resistance to change, and to their deliberate isolation from the external influences of the modern western world, the indigenous Huichol Indians succeeded in what no other pre-Columbian civilization could: they maintained their traditional culture, their language, and their religion.
But even high up in the Sierra Madre mountains, the threats to the ever-peaceful lives of the Huichol grow. They face draughts, extinction of endemic animals and plants, poverty, land-grab, and destruction by mining companies. In one way or another, these are related to western civilization, where economic motives prevail over the preservation of nature and traditions.
The endangered land of the Huichol people needs support. Not only because of the threats to the tribe itself, but also because humanity as a whole is involved. The Huichol believe that they hold the key to the survival of the planet. As long as they can keep the balance on their lands between nature and human influence, the planet will continue to flourish. This means humanity at large can hugely benefit from their wisdom, and their knowledge can heal our souls and bodies.
Can the Kauyumari project contribute to rebalancing the relationship between the environment and human development?