The Other Side of Brazil: Alexia Photographers Bear Witness

February 21 2014. A child from the Xikrin village of "Pot crô" stands for a photo on the banks of the Rio Bacaja, its name meaning "the water that runs in river is the same as the blood that flows through our veins." The Xikrin are a warrior tribe that have strongly resisted the dam, but were recently dived into 8 smaller groups due to negotiations with Norte Enegria, the company building the dam. Many of the chiefs were paid off with boats, motors, and televisions, while others maintained resistance. The Bacaja, a tributary of the Xingu River which the people depend upon for fish and transportation, will severely dry up after the dam is completed. Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Alexia Foundation

February 21 2014. A child from the Xikrin village of “Pot crô” stands for a photo on the banks of the Rio Bacaja, its name meaning “the water that runs in river is the same as the blood that flows through our veins.” The Xikrin are a warrior tribe that have strongly resisted the dam, but were recently dived into 8 smaller groups due to negotiations with Norte Enegria, the company building the dam. Many of the chiefs were paid off with boats, motors, and televisions, while others maintained resistance. The Bacaja, a tributary of the Xingu River which the people depend upon for fish and transportation, will severely dry up after the dam is completed. Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Alexia Foundation

While the attention of the world is focused on the spectacle of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, The Alexia Foundation is witness to a very different reality from that being broadcast. Over the past three years, two of our professional grant recipients have received their funding based on work done in Brazil. The 2016 Alexia Grant winner, Aaron Vincent Elkaim, was awarded the $20,000 grant for his work on Brazil’s major hydroelectric expansion in the Amazon Rainforest. 2014 winner Sebastián Liste received his grant to create a visual map of the new culture of violence in Latin America.

Elkaim’s Where The River Runs Through shows us the intertwined people and ecosystems of the Amazon River basin as development in the name of national progress threatens to destroy it. The Belo Monte Dam Complex is a crucial component of the government’s Accelerated Growth Program intended to spur economic growth in Brazil. It intends to drive the industrialization of the Amazon with over 60 major hydroelectric projects. The completion of the Belo Monte Dam, the third-largest dam in the world, has displaced over 20,000 people.

March 14, 2014. A family moves their belonging out of their flooded home in Invasao dos Padres, a neighbourhood in Altamira that is being permanently flooded by the Belo Monte Dam. Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Alexia Foundation

March 14, 2014. A family moves their belonging out of their flooded home in Invasao dos Padres, a neighbourhood in Altamira that is being permanently flooded by the Belo Monte Dam. Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Alexia Foundation

Although hydroelectric dams are touted as clean, renewable sources of energy, they in fact flood hundreds of square miles of land and permanently transform the complex river ecosystems. The energy generated is to be used to provide electricity to Brazil’s booming cities thousands of miles away. The dams will also provide energy to mining initiatives in the Amazon, which will further compound the negative impact on the ecosystem.

“We understand the importance of the Amazon Rainforest, yet what happens there is often shielded from our vision,” explains Elkaim in his proposal.

April 2014. Neto fans the flames while building a canoe from a tree in the Riozinho do Anfrisio Extractavist Reserve. Extractavists are the descendants of Rubber Tappers who came to the forests generations ago during Brazils Rubber Boom. They now live along the river banks with an economy based on harvesting sustainable natural products such as rubber, nuts, and oils. All their homes and boats are built from the forest.

April 2014. Neto fans the flames while building a canoe from a tree in the Riozinho do Anfrisio Extractavist Reserve. Extractavists are the descendants of Rubber Tappers who came to the forests generations ago during Brazils Rubber Boom. They now live along the river banks with an economy based on harvesting sustainable natural products such as rubber, nuts, and oils. All their homes and boats are built from the forest.

His work intends to “focus on witnessing the fallout from Belo Monte and other regional dams. This [includes] the impacts of the loss of construction employment for local and migrant workers, the growth of collateral industries such as mining, logging, ranching, and agriculture, and most importantly the stories of those who are being robbed of their birthright, the natural world that surrounds them.”

View Elkaim’s full proposal here: http://www.alexiafoundation.org/stories/Where-the-River-Runs-Through

SALVADOR DE BAHIA, BRAZIL – JANUARY 22, 2011: Ana celebrating her sixth birthday. She was born and has grown up inside the abandonated chocolate factory, on January 22, 2011 in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. This impoverished community took up residence in an old abandoned chocolate factory on the coast in Salvador de Bahia. Despite the lack of socio-economic support from the government, they have managed to make a safe place for themselves to live, and form a community of their own, which is safer that the alternatives available to them. However they are currently being evicted by the government due to being there illegally. Sebastian Liste/Reportage by Getty Images

SALVADOR DE BAHIA, BRAZIL – JANUARY 22, 2011: Ana celebrating her sixth birthday. She was born and has grown up inside the abandonated chocolate factory, on January 22, 2011 in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. This impoverished community took up residence in an old abandoned chocolate factory on the coast in Salvador de Bahia. Despite the lack of socio-economic support from the government, they have managed to make a safe place for themselves to live, and form a community of their own, which is safer that the alternatives available to them. However they are currently being evicted by the government due to being there illegally. Sebastian Liste/Reportage by Getty Images

Liste’s The New Culture of Violence in Latin America gives us insight into violence throughout the region. The violence, he tells us, is devoid of any ideological end. It affects young, second generation urban dwellers who are exposed to high consumer expectations fueled by advertising and mass media. Because the young people cannot meet these expectations by conventional means, they turn to drug trafficking and force. Firearms are a way to construct an identity and achieve the financial means to fulfill their aspirations. The criminal violence is met by increased police violence, both of which have major economic consequences on the population.

SALVADOR DE BAHIA, BRAZIL – MAY, 22 2010: Melanie (22) with her two sons in a small shack in an abandoned chocolate factory in Salvador de Bahia. In spite of the extreme conditions in which they live, this factory in ruins has become a home for the family, on May 22, 2010 in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Despite the lack of socio-economic support from the government, they have managed to make a safe place for themselves to live, and form a community of their own, which is safer that the alternatives available to them. However they are currently being evicted by the government due to being there illegally. Sebastian Liste/Reportage by Getty Images

SALVADOR DE BAHIA, BRAZIL – MAY, 22 2010: Melanie (22) with her two sons in a small shack in an abandoned chocolate factory in Salvador de Bahia. In spite of the extreme conditions in which they live, this factory in ruins has become a home for the family, on May 22, 2010 in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Sebastian Liste/Reportage by Getty Images

His began this project in the favelas of Brazil. His application was accompanied by images of an impoverished community who took up residence in an abandoned chocolate factory in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Despite their lack of socio-economic support from the government, they created a safe place for themselves to live. In his images, we see the determination of an impoverished people to make a better life, as well as the circumstances that can drive individuals to violence.

SALVADOR DE BAHIA, BRAZIL – MARCH 21, 2011: Men fighting with knives and wooden sticks due to debt problems, on March 21, 2011 in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Despite the lack of socio-economic support from the government, they have managed to make a safe place for themselves to live, and form a community of their own, which is safer that the alternatives available to them. However they are currently being evicted by the government due to being there illegally. Sebastian Liste/Reportage by Getty Images

SALVADOR DE BAHIA, BRAZIL – MARCH 21, 2011: Men fighting with knives and wooden sticks due to debt problems, on March 21, 2011 in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Sebastian Liste/Reportage by Getty Images

Liste’s final project revisited different socio-economic levels in Brazil, examining how they contributed to or circumvented the violence there. It also looked as the production of cocaine in Peru, the emergence of a new generation in Cuba and the abduction of 43 students in Mexico.

Liste’s final project will be posted shortly. View Liste’s full proposal here. http://www.alexiafoundation.org/stories/the-new-culture-of-violence-in-latin-america

Comments are closed.