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Best Of 2021 : The dreamlike Amazon of Elza Lima


For nearly forty years, the Brazilian photographer Elza Lima (Belém, 1952) has documented her native Amazonia in a very personal style, full of benevolence.

As a child, from the window of her grandmother’s kitchen, she saw the Guajará, one of the many rivers that make up this extraordinary hydrographic network that the poet Thiago de Mello called the “homeland of water”: Amazon. In the Amazon, the river is the road, the food, the poetic inspiration; It is in the water that the lives of traditional populations flow, it is there that they anchor their daily lives and draw their abundant collective imagination.

Still unpublished in France, the work of Elza Lima shows a people in symbiosis with nature. It also presents the religious festivals of a very particular popular Catholicism, influenced by the imagination and the rich Amerindian cosmogony, as well as a set of images against the backdrop of naive paintings revealing local beliefs and legends.

Over the course of her career, the artist has witnessed a gradual metamorphosis of the Amazonian landscapes. Because for a long time, the search for natural resources has caused dramatic changes in these territories which affect the fauna and flora, but also the chemical composition of the soil, subsoil, water and air, and which directly affect populations that live there. This is all the contradiction that photography sometimes carries: dreamlike images of a threatened territory.

Cristianne Rodrigues

Exhibition curator, specialist in Brazilian photography

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