Photographer Claudia Andujar’s past images continue to fight for Brazil’s Yanomami people

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SAO PAULO – Every night at 7pm, renowned photographer Claudia Andujar sits down at her desk, puts on her headphones and switches on the computer in her apartment overlooking Sao Paulo’s famous Avenida Paulista.

She has a standing Skype date with Carlo Zacquini, a missionary she met almost 50 years ago, when she started her groundbreaking work with the Yanomami people of the Brazilian Amazon. The two, along with anthropologist Bruce Albert, worked for decades to help the indigenous group, some 38,000 strong, protect their land.

There, in 1978, the trio sat at the light table next to the wall-to-wall windows in Andujar’s stark white living room and made a plan.

Strewn with negatives for her upcoming photo books, it became the home base for their work with the Yanomami that, 14 years later, would lead to the demarcation of the indigenous territory, on the border between Venezuela and Brazil, and its official protection under federal law.

At 91, Andujar can no longer make the arduous trip to Yanomami land, so it is her nightly chats with Zacquini, who still lives and works alongside them, that keep her informed about the obstacles the community faces today.

For some time, she wanted to find a way to continue to stand by them in their fight, despite the thousands of kilometres that now separate them.

And she did.

The photos she made decades ago have, once again, been touring the world, this time alongside works made by Yanomami artists, in The Yanomami Struggle, an exhibition organised by the Cartier Foundation in Paris, the Moreira Salles Institute in Sao Paulo and the Shed in Manhattan, in partnership with Brazilian non-governmental organisations Hutukara Associacao Yanomami and Instituto Socioambiental.

It runs at the Shed from Feb 3 to April 16, and Andujar hopes it will amplify Yanomami voices and move others to take action against the tragedy still unfolding on their land.

“I think my photos helped back then,” Andujar said, “but they didn’t resolve anything. We still need to fight.”

Born Claudine Haas, Andujar was raised in Transylvania on the Romani...

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