Rogério Assis and Ciro Girard launch Bush? , publication with photos by Rogério and art direction by Ciro, a welcome provocation that confronts beauty with destruction, folly with conscience, life and death and the verb to the title's noun. Their second book that in 2013, by Terceiro Nome, published Zo' is, Bush? is the result of an idea that emerged two years ago and was made possible by five sponsors, Caito Ortiz, Diana Vanni, Heinz Gruber, Maru Whately and Roberta Maiorana.
For Rogério Assis, a photographer who was born in Belém, a notable center for contemporary photography, the work, more than a photography book, is an environmental work:
“Here, photography is a tool. It is environmental awareness work. At least a try. I use photography because that's what I know how to do. If I were a musician I might write a song, if I were a painter I would paint a picture. But I'm a photographer so my tool is photography”, says the author.
"Bush? no copyright concern.” he continues. “When you look at the images you realize that they are common images. Practically stock photos. The difference is that we make use of them to formulate the environmental discourse. "
Rogério goes further: “I'm not worried about the 'beauty' of the images. The cute picture ends there. She is beautiful but from then on there is nothing else. I'm not worried about this so much that many of the images were taken through an airplane window, some have a blurry piece, in others the color is not perfect because the window gets in the way, but the message, which is what matters to us, is yes, is given. Each double page of the book, with its photos, is an interconnected thing and the set of these double pages translates into the message we want to convey. "
The photographer works for organizations such as Greenpeace and the Instituto Sócio Ambiental and travels a lot through the Amazon – in addition to being born there – so he has a lot of photographic material from the region and the book follows the path of the search for the preservation/destruction counterpoint with the aim of tie it plastically. Idea by Ciro Girard, the art director, with which Rogério agreed:
“I started to separate this cool thing which is the awesomeness of the environment and the sad thing which is its destruction. The speech, the idea of the book was more or less to make this counterpoint between preservation and destruction and then Ciro came up with the idea of tying this counterpoint plastically. Make the images talk. Not just taking the photo of weeds and the photo of destruction. But rather that these images had a plastic conversation between them. If there wasn't this dialogue, maybe everything would go by the wayside, as if it were just another speech against deforestation in the Amazon. And we didn't want to trivialize the speech. We wanted there to be a visual force that provoked the reader. We started from more than nine hundred photos, almost a thousand, to arrive at these 58”, he says.
Regarding the excessive concern for authorship, Rogério Assis points to a reversal of purpose: “This thing of “authority” in photography, this concern with being an author, is something that has bothered me. One thing I already looked for back when I started. Today, more importance is being given to this notion of author than to the object, the subject that is being covered, photographed. What happened in Brazil from the moment Mauricio Lima, for example, with that human, beautiful, wonderful work on war, won an award (he won the Pulitzer, in 2016), suddenly war became an object of desire of many photographers and the guy goes there to take a photo for the award. The subject is not concerned with the question of what moves that war. The environment, the indigenous question, etc., also suffer from the same evil. These are sensitive issues for most people and many people end up taking advantage of this sensitivity to create a false discourse on the subject. I even think it's a little dishonest that you're more concerned with your own work than with the important issue you're dealing with. In my opinion, what you do is important to raise awareness of what you are covering, be it war, the environment, the indigenous issue or the drama of refugees. Whatever it is. The aim is to create awareness on the subject. It's not the guy arriving and looking at the photo and saying how beautiful, how beautiful! And? What do you do with it? There is a lot of confusion between environmental photography and nature photography. Environmental photography is your use of photography.”
Rogério Assis was born in the 60s and in the 1980s he attended Miguel Chikaoka's first photography workshops in Belém, where he also worked for the Emilio Goeldi Museum and Funai. In São Paulo he worked at Angular, at Agência Estado, at Folha. He lived in New York, where he worked at the ICP, International Center of Photograpy. He created Editora Mandioca where he published the magazine Pororoca. He also participated in publications by Editora BEI. As far as is known, he was the first photographer to record the zo'é – Tupi-speaking people who inhabit the northwest of Pará, work published in 2013, by Editora Terceiro Nome, also with art direction by Ciro Girard.
Bush? It is edited by Editora Olhavé, has 116 pages, hardcover, offset printing on 150g high white paper, print run of 500 copies. There are 58 edited photos in 29 diptychs. It costs R$ 90,00 and can (and if possible, should, because in addition to everything that Rogério Assis defends in this interview, the book is very beautiful) be purchased at loja.olhave.com.br.
*Hélio Campos Mello is a photojournalist. Co-Founder of Brasileiros Editora Ltda.