Travelling through the territory

Gabriel Uchida



Since the end of the 18th century, date of the first naturalistic expeditions to the North and Central West regions of Brazil, the increasing sophistication of images production has been put on the service of exploration and control of territories. A broad repertoire of resources - drawings, maps, photographs and satellite images - scans the mineral riches, flora, fauna and the region's indigenous populations. The collection of images obtained through such power is impressive and it translates at the symbolic level the borders and boundaries physically demarcated in the territory in a context of land dispute.

On the opposite side of this dispute, indigenous peoples also mobilize their narratives to explain and react to the encounter with the non-indigenous man, constituting their own counter-discursive collections of images. “Traveling through the territory” by Gabriel Uchida is the record of one of these collections. Working with the Uru-eu-wau-wau people in the Brazilian Amazon, Uchida had contact with a set of pages of magazines, academic texts and other visual records accumulated over several years by this indigenous group. The pages, stained with “urucum” (red natural ink), scratched or punctured, made up a visual story of contacts between the Uru-wau-wau and the world - indigenous or not – surrounding them.

Thereafter, a laborious process of documenting this collection which included, in addition to the integral images of each page, the details and characters that stood out in the imaginary corpus. Although its subject is the Uru-eu-wau-wau people itself, not all that is seen is at first sight concerning this people. Practicing a kind of meta-photography Uchida investigates the chain of mirroring looks between Uru-eu-wau-wau and us, non-indigenous people. These images do not explain or describe but illuminate - as if for an instant they gained qualities of archaeological fragment - the history of the contact between us and them. As echoes, resurge amidst major infrastructure projects and other symptoms of order and progress in order to affirm, once again, its strength and their difference.

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