It has the character of a manifesto Claudia Andujar – The Yanomami Struggle, on display at Instituto Moreira Salles (IMS), in São Paulo. In about 300 images, the exhibition portrays the artist's almost 50 years of commitment to indigenous peoples, at a time when the federal government encourages threats that jeopardize their condition in the Amazon.
Andujar has been seen on a recurring basis over the last 20 years, from the so-called Bienal da Antropofagia, in 1998, to the biennial Como Viver Junto, in 2006, having reached its peak in the inauguration of its pavilion in Inhotim, three years ago, in addition to of dozens of exhibitions, collective or individual, as in the Pinacoteca do Estado, in 2005, with The vulnerability of being.
However, the cut proposed by Thyago Nogueira, who organizes the current exhibition, gives strength to Andujar's work, also presenting a vast material of notes, interviews for the press, books and even recorded diaries, which attest to Andujar's deep bond with the Yanomami.
This is, in fact, the second exhibition on Andujar at IMS. The first, In the place of the other, from 2015, exhibited at the Rio de Janeiro headquarters, brought together the artist's production in the 1960s and 1970s, especially as a photojournalist, but encompassing series that already pointed to her particular strategy of producing images from an effective involvement . The exhibition even reached the photos for the special edition of the magazine Realidade, about the Amazon, in 1971. It was then his first contact with the Yanomami.
Three years later, in 1974, she returned equipped to remain a long time among those with whom she would live for more than four decades. “I think one of the most wonderful things about them is the fact that they always seem to be happy. I hear them laugh in the morning, shout in a happy way, talk, sing. At night, when it gets dark, they lie in the hammocks and it's the same thing for hours”, says the Swiss-born Brazilian, in English, in one of the audios available at the show, held in 1974, one of her first trips to Catrimani, the most visited by her.
The current exhibition is divided into two parts, and the first actually attests to this contagious joy of the Yanomami in the forest, in the maloca, in their party rituals and in connection with the spirits of the forest. Some images are familiar, but there is a lot of new material. Overall, they reinforce the intimate, affective, delicate relationship between the photographer and her subjects. These are close-up images, of a witness who does not consider himself distant and who, to better convey what he sees, uses simple resources, such as applying Vaseline to the edges of the camera lens, to blur the surroundings, making whoever is in the center of the image startle.
In this first room, as there are no walls dividing the space, but the photographs are hanging from the ceiling, there is almost a simulation of families living together in their huts. Without a doubt, it is an ethical option, that of living together, which follows the respect that Andujar dedicates to the construction of the images.
On the second floor, Nogueira highlights the militant character of Andujar, whether with the series Marcados, made in 1983, when, together with two doctors, he vaccinated hundreds of Yanomami, protecting them against diseases that arrived along the roads opened by the military dictatorship.
The highlight, however, is the installation Yanomami Genocide: Death of Brazil, created in 1989 and exhibited in the same year at the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), against the threat of demarcation of indigenous land, by the Sarney government, in 19 “islands” in the Amazon, which would end up asphyxiating them.
The creation of the Yanomami territory, an area twice the size of Belgium, would take place three years later, in 1992, under the Collor government. For some theorists, due to Andujar's commitment to the cause, this could be considered the greatest work of land art in existence.
The installation was originally assembled with a system of slide projectors, but in the IMS it is made with a digital system, which projects photos of Andujar and, through filters and lights, creates a narrative of a world in harmony that is gradually being few, destroyed. What was already an urgent cause 30 years ago is now again relevant to the statements made by the president-elect, who believes that the demarcation of indigenous territory is “like maintaining a zoo”.