In Pictures

Claudia Andujar: A glimpse of Yanomami life in the jungle

For more than five decades, Swiss-Brazilian photographer Claudia Andujar has devoted her life to photographing and protecting the Yanomami, one of the largest indigenous groups in Brazil.

The Yanomami live in the remote forest of the Orinoco River basin, in southern Venezuela, and around the Catrimani river in Roraima state, northern Brazil.

They hunt, practise small-scale slash-and-burn agriculture and live in small, scattered, semi-permanent villages.

Susi Korihana thëri swimming, taken with infrared film in 1972-1974 Image copyright Claudia Andujar, courtesy Fondation Cartier.
Image caption Susi Korihana thëri swimming, taken with infrared film, 1972-74
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Collective house near the Catholic mission on the Catrimani River, Roraima, taken with infrared film in 1976 Image copyright Claudia Andujar, courtesy Fondation Cartier.
Image caption Collective house, or "maloca", near the Catholic mission on the Catrimani river, taken with infrared film, 1976
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Andujar was born in Switzerland in 1931 and grew up in Transylvania, Romania.

During World War Two, her father, a Hungarian Jew, was deported to Dachau concentration camp, where he was killed along with most of his relatives.

Andujar fled with her mother to Switzerland and then to the US before finally settling in Brazil, in 1955, where she began a career as a photojournalist.

Antônio Korihana thëri under the effects of the hallucinogen yãkoana, photograph taken between 1972 to 1976 Image copyright Claudia Andujar, courtesy Fondation Cartier.
Image caption Antônio Korihana thëri under the effects of the ritual hallucinogen "yakoana", 1972-76. Yanomami shamans inhale the yakoana powder, extracted from the bark of the Virola tree, in order to enter a dream state.
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Her early photographs experimented with a variety of techniques, including using infrared film, petroleum jelly on the lens and lighting to create distortions and saturated colour.

Funeral urn, infrared film, Catrimani, Roraima State, Brazil, 1976 Image copyright Claudia Andujar, courtesy Fondation Cartier.
Image caption Yanomami funeral urn, taken with infrared film, 1976
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And she tried to capture the shamanic culture of the Yanomami by creating an alien, otherworldly view, rather than following a conventional documentary style.

The Yanomami burn down their malocas when they migrate, if they want to get rid of a plague or if an important leader dies. Taken with infrared film in 1976 Image copyright Claudia Andujar, courtesy Fondation Cartier.
Image caption The Yanomami burn down their malocas when they migrate, if they want to get rid of a plague or if an important leader dies. Taken with infrared film, 1976
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Catrimani, Roraima State, Brazil, 1974 Image copyright Claudia Andujar, courtesy Fondation Cartier.
Image caption Yanomami in Catrimani, 1974
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The construction of the transcontinental highway in the Amazon, initiated by Brazil's military government, opened up the region to deforestation as well as invasive agricultural programmes.

Youth Wakatha u thëri, a victim of measles, is treated by shamans and paramedics from the Catholic mission in Catrimani, Roraima, 1976. Image copyright Claudia Andujar, courtesy Fondation Cartier.
Image caption Youth Wakatha u thëri, a victim of measles, is treated by shamans and paramedics from the Catholic mission in Catrimani 1976
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And the increased contact with outsiders brought the Yanomami epidemics of diseases to which they had no immunity, wiping out two entire communities.

Yanomami in the construction work on the North Perimeter Highway, Catrimani, Roraima, 1975 Image copyright Claudia Andujar, courtesy Fondation Cartier.
Image caption Some of the Yanomami worked on the construction of the North Perimeter Highway in Catrimani, 1975
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This situation reminded Andujar of the genocide in Europe and, in 1978, she became involved in a political campaign to create a tribal reserve for their homeland.

Setting aside her art project, increasingly she used photography to raise awareness and support the Yanomami cause.

Their land in Brazil was finally designated as an indigenous reserve, the Yanomami Park, in 1992.

Adolescent with feathers, 1976. Image copyright Claudia Andujar, courtesy Fondation Cartier.
Image caption Adolescent with feathers, from the Portraits series, in 1976.
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The exhibition Claudia Andujar, The Yanomami Struggle will be shown at the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, in Paris, until 10 May 2020.

All images copyright Claudia Andujar, courtesy Fondation Cartier