Exploring the jaguar’s symbolic role as the protector from evil, Mueo examines both its place in the spirit realm, as well as the spirit world itself: what is it, who can access it, and who is barred from it based on their lapsed connection to the divine and lack of reverence for nature and its bounty. Drawing parallels with the AR space and the NFT gallery through which the Amazonia exhibit is exclusively viewed and accessed, Mueo questions the special conditions that allow a person to be invited into a sacred “other world” and how that space should be experienced and treated.
Since Mueo has been chosen as a guardian of the Monograma Amazonia project, The Jaguar is an allegorical digital artwork to depict not just the many threats to the Paiter Surui and Cinta Larga tribes of the Amazon, but the efforts being made to stop the encroachment of other so-called ‘civilizations’ who have come to exploit ‘them’ and ‘it’. Here, evil takes the form of an omnipresent ‘demon’, a dangerous unwanted visitor (in this case, the modern-day capitalist colonizer) who must be kept at bay by a protector that, not incidentally, is going extinct.
Mueo was intrigued by the different cultural appropriations of the jaguar, how it has been commodified and used for commercial gain outside the Amazon, from a luxury car brand status symbol to ayahuasca tourism to illegally poached goods for the traditional Chinese medicine market. Just as there have been waves of colonialism, there have been several incarnations, if you will, of consumer interest in the jaguar throughout history. And these must be juxtaposed with what the jaguar has represented to local people throughout the same time period. Allusions to deforestation and loss of cultural diversity were considered when creating The Jaguar. But perhaps more importantly, Mueo also wanted to make a more obvious reference to how ferocious both an animal and one’s inner spirit become when their territory – metaphysical or otherwise – is intruded upon.