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The unsettling gaze of a young couple – white settlers in a foreign land; the bright yellow of the afternoon sun over a dusty town; native Indians hunting and praying; the lush green of the jungle; garimpeiros – prospectors – eking out a living searching for precious minerals: all stunning images of life in the Amazon, captured by the US photojournalist Loren McIntyre over the course of three decades.
McIntyre’s photographs form part of a group exhibition, ‘O Mais Parecido Possível – O Retrato’ (‘As Similar as Possible – The Portrait’) featuring forty portraits by fourteen talented photographers.
McIntyre, who passed away in 2003, worked for various publications including the National Geographic, and spent 30 years on and off, from the 1960s to the ’80s, living and working in the Amazon, where he captured the contrasting realities of the region’s inhabitants, from native Indians to prostitutes and immigrant settlers.
A selection of McIntyre’s portraits is also being published in the book Na Floresta, Uma Tarde – In the Jungle, One Afternoon. The book features 49 of McIntyre’s photographs, carefully chosen by Roberto Linsker from among the more than 30,000 images that compose the photographer’s archive. Accompanying text, in Portuguese as well as in English and Spanish, has been written by the Pinatoeca’s photography curator Diógenes Moura.
‘I was hoping to tell a bit about the transformation of the Amazon in the poetic images that Loren captured,’ says Linsker. ‘I sought to show the Brazil that left without saying goodbye, and the scenes that are so much our own that we’ve stopped noticing them.’
The book is split into two chapters. The first, ‘Na Floresta’ (‘In the Jungle’), reveals the creeping advance of Western civilisation on the jungle, with photographs that transport readers straight into the verdant Amazon, and the lives of its inhabitants. The second, ‘Uma Tarde’ (‘One Afternoon’) is a moving insight, shot in 1976, into a typical afternoon in a brothel in a village of garimpeiros, the independent labourers who make a living in search of minerals in the Amazon’s rich soil.
More than just photographs, McIntyre’s images are intimate portraits of a region and its people, unknown to most outsiders. ‘What most impressed me is the way that Loren managed to capture all these scenes. I can almost hear the music that was playing on the gramophone,’ says Linsker. ‘There’s no intrusion – Loren seems like one of them.’
The exhibition at the Pinacoteca will also include portraits by the paulistano photographer Klaus Mitteldorf and the Bahian photographer Lita Cerqueira as well as works by Cristiano Mascaro, Eduardo Villares, Edu Simões, Ricardo Alcaide and Luiz Braga, from Amazônia, whose intimacy with the landscape and surprising use of colours have earned him accolades around the world.
The book Na Floresta, Uma Tarde, is published by Editora Terra Virgem, R$45.