The Yanomami Struggle
Exhibition: – 13 Feb 2022
Thu 16 Dec
Tue-Sun 11am-6pm, Wed 11am-8pm
For five decades, photographer Claudia Andujar (b. 1931) has dedicated her life and work to the indigenous Yanomami communities in the Amazon region of Northern Brazil. In the late 1970s, when the community found itself subjected to severe external threats, the Swiss-born photographer, who is based in São Paulo, began fighting for the Yanomami’s rights. She subsequently went on to join the community, thus deepening relations between them.
Her fourteen-year battle alongside Yanomami leader Davi Kopenawa and other concerned parties led to an official demarcation of the community’s land in 1992. Today, Andujar’s activist efforts are as relevant as ever – as is illustrated by current events, such as the ongoing deforestation and environmental destruction caused by mining and ranching, human rights violations in the region or the spread of malaria and COVID-19. The exhibition brings into focus the humanitarian and environmental crises that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
The exhibition Claudia Andujar: The Yanomami Struggle, which brings together photographs, audiovisual installations, Yanomami drawings and other documents, is based on two years of research in Andujar’s archive. It is the first major retrospective dedicated to the work of the Brazilian activist, a survivor of the Holocaust, who has devoted her life to photographing and defending the Yanomami.
The first part of this exhibition presents the evolution of Andujar’s artistic work during the 1970s, when she sought to share her fascination with the Yanomami’s shamanic culture in her photography and illustrated books. Her photographic documentation of spiritual rituals, her sensitive portraits and a project with Yanomami drawings that she initiated gave viewers insights into the community’s way of life.
The second part of the exhibition shows how Andujar moved away from art to focus on direct political action as part of the struggle to defend the Yanomami people. In 1978 Andujar and a group of activists founded an NGO to advocate Yanomami rights and assert the community’s territory. During the 1980s she travelled the world with the Yanomami shaman and spokesperson Davi Kopenawa to mobilise international attention. Their long-fought battle culminated in the demarcation of Yanomami territory in 1992 – a victory that is now being undermined by the policies of the current Brazilian government.
An exhibition by Instituto Moreira Salles in Brazil, in partnership with Hutukara Associação Yanomami and Instituto Socioambiental, curated by Thyago Nogueira. In cooperation with CULTURESCAPES 2021 Amazonas and planned as an international collaboration with the Fondation Cartier in Paris, the Triennale Milano, the Fundación MAPFRE in Madrid and the Barbican Centre in London.