An effort to publicise an Amazonian tribe through photography

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An effort to publicise an Amazonian tribe through photography

Summary:

  • Andujar uses these effects to take us closer to the exhilarating tribal ceremony experience.

  • She told me from So Paulo that she is 91 and has “spent my life trying to comprehend the Yanomami and to try and transfer what I know.” “

  • According to anthropologist Bruce Albert, the Yanomami grew to love and trust Andujar and saw her photographs as a vital record of their presence to the outside world.

  • The Brazilian government started building a motorway through the Yanomami territory in 1973.

  • Andujar emerged as one of the tribe’s most tenacious protectors, co-founding an N.G.O. alongside Albert and the missionary Carlo Zacquini to give Yanomami territory legal protection.

To get the required oneiric effects for that shot, Andujar experimented with lighting strategies, exposure times, and camera motions while covering the windows of her flat in So Paulo with paper. She uses double exposures to create ghostly doppelgängers and frenetic light trails that scamper around the performers’ bodies like inebriated, accelerated fireflies. An eerie orange glow can be seen in an infrared image of a departed tribe member’s body enclosed in a burial cocoon composed of twigs and palm leaves and let to disintegrate as is customary. Andujar uses these effects to take us closer to the exhilarating tribal ceremony experience. Still, she also creates the impression that she is photographing a chasm of cultural differences that will never be crossed. She told me from So Paulo that she is 91 years old and has “spent my life trying to comprehend the Yanomami and to try and transfer what I know.” “To understand people is to understand life,” she continued.

A graveside bundle in the woods. Region of Catrimani, 1976.

All traces of the Yanomami people are destroyed after they pass away and are memorialised; their belongings are destroyed and burned, and their names are no longer spoken. So that their spirits might pass on to the next, their links to this world are broken. This might have put the tribe’s culture at odds with photography’s aim of preserving and capturing it. According to anthropologist Bruce Albert, the Yanomami grew to love and trust Andujar and saw her photographs as a vital record of their presence to the outside world. The Brazilian government started building a motorway through the Yanomami territory in 1973. The initiative was quickly abandoned, but not before it exposed the tribe to new diseases, ecological devastation, and cultural upheaval. Countless people died as a measles outbreak ravaged the Yanomami community at the end of 1977. Andujar emerged as one of the tribe’s most tenacious protectors, co-founding an N.G.O. alongside Albert and the missionary Carlo Zacquini to give Yanomami territory legal protection.

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