While play may be a complicated matter because its politics are often considered
ambiguous, it is not only in their daily play and work that Guarani children reveal
an impressive comprehension of, and propose creative solutions to, the painful
and complex issues they face today. The children at Itaóca extend their political
commentaries on reality through their songs, in or outside of the opy or prayer house,
as will be seen, as well as through their graphic representations of the world they
experience. In their drawings, Guarani children and young adults also suggest that
the Land-without-Evil can be an earthly reality.
The barren, infertile reservation land is transformed into a lush and thriving
territory, covered with plentiful vegetable gardens and rich hunting grounds. The
immediacy of the cities' dumpsites, banana farms and cemeteries is smothered out of
the portraits. Sickly, famished children often materialize as xondaro - warriors whose
bodies have achieved the immortal essence of the mythic paradise. The aesthetic
quality of small-scale representations of Guarani social life draws its value from
the dimensions of a changing world the youngsters are trying to create and convey
through the work of art and play. In these drawings, too, the younger generations
elaborate their political commentaries on reality, such as in the drawing presented
below, produced by the teenager Celso Benites in 1999, when I asked him to draw
about his vida (life) at Itaóca ( Fig. 3.4) . The drawing depicts, as Celso explained,
Guarani children at work, cutting brush and planting corn, while others are on the
road to visit their parents. At the bottom, the artist added the following words: “We
had lots of woods. The white man entered, fenced [them] in and cut down lots of
woods” (Ferreira and Suhrbier 2002).
Figure 3.4. “We had lots of woods.” By Celso Benites, 1999.