The Brazilian-born photographer Valdir Cruz has lived in the United States for more than thirty years, yet much of his work focuses on the people and landscape of Brazil. From 1995-2000 he photographed Faces of the Rainforest, a project documenting the life of indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest, particularly the Yanomami people.
Like the photographs of Edward S. Curtis hundred years before, Cruz’s haunting images are made all the more hallucinatory by the knowledge that this ancient culture is about to disappear off the face of the earth. By failing to recognize the different ways of knowing by which people across the globe run their lives and provide meaning to their existence, we eradicate the epistemological diversity of the world beyond retrieval.
These photographs lie halfway between anthropology and art. Halfway between may be the safest place to be today, when conflicted feelings about interest in tribal people run so deep that even curiosity about their appearance can be read as exploitation.Vicki Goldberg