Op-Ed: Ethno-photography: The Possibility of Seeing Other Worlds

by Edgar Kanaykõ Xakriabá

Indigenous peoples in Brazil have, over the past few years, been experiencing a new resumption of space. Just as territory is the basis for ensuring the maintenance of people's lives - as well as our identities, the continuation of being what we are - there is a certain need to have a way to guarantee such support.

Among various means and possibilities, a new tool for fighting emerges - the audiovisual, and specifically the photographic image which is seen by many indigenous communities as a “necessary evil”. On the one hand, the arrival of these new technologies is seen as a bad influence on the culture of the people, and on the other hand, there is a certain desire to use this new “weapon” in favor of the struggle and guarantee of the rights of indigenous peoples.

We can say, then, that our Design is strictly linked to the ways of life that connect the people with their identity. The territory for indigenous peoples is crucial to maintain the relationships that connect them to the forest land - where things are interconnected since the planting and harvesting of the fields, hunting, rivers, objects, handicrafts, ceramics - in the things of us and the “whites”. Of humans and non-humans, and all the possibilities of relationships that are created and their ontologies.

Symbols, representations by means of images, body paintings, ornaments, ornaments, sounds, songs and musicality are essential in indigenous culture. However, their understanding may not be so simple for those who “see from the outside”, since they are loaded with their own (re) interpretations and specific meanings based on their own cultural modes. Such a way of seeing, perceiving and seeing things is excellence, as it were, of indigenous practices, in which they are strictly linked to learning and ways of producing knowledge.

My trajectory as an indigenous of the Xakriabá people and at the same time a photographer is based on this tangle of relationships. Developing throughout this work with the image, through Ethnophotography: "a means of registering aspects of culture - the life of a people". Turning photography into a new tool of struggle, enabling the “other” to see with a different look what an indigenous people is. Therefore, I use photography as a means, too, of describing aspects of cultures (mainly indigenous) with a view of those who experience such realities. I then have the possibility of capturing through the lens things that previously wou