Claudia Andujar: Cosmovision 

Itau Cultural (Sao Paulo), Apr-Jun/24

It is on display, in Sao Paulo, ‘Claudia Andujar: Cosmovision,’ a solo show by Claudia Andujar, a groundbreaking photographer and activist. Curated by Eder Chiodetto, also a photographer himself, the show spans 50 years of her career and encompasses not only the photos of indigenous people she is well-known for. The show is intended to make the audience dive into Andujar’s ‘cosmovision,’ her way to see and understand the universe.

It occupies two storeys of the building of Itau Cultural on Paulista Avenue, one of the iconic streets of the city. Itau Cultural is the foundation of Bank Itau and was founded in the 1980s. It’s been years since they put on shows of visual artists, whether they are Brazilian or not. In Andujar’s case, she is both.

The photographer was born in 1931 in Switzerland, to a Jewish father and a protestant mother. As a child, she and her family relocated to Hungary where she saw her family to be murdered. In the 1940s she flew to the United States. In 1955, she moved to Brazil where she started working as a photographer. In the beginning, she did not speak a word of Portuguese –photography was how she was in touch with the country.

She gradually approached ‘groups in situations of vulnerability, such as women, homosexuals (see Image 1), and the indigenous peoples of the forest – groups that remain vulnerable today’, in the curator’s words. Over the years she collaborated with local and foreign magazines and exhibited extensively, in Brazil and abroad. In 1976, she naturalized Brazilian.

Photo essay of gay people for ‘Realidade’ magazine, 1967. Photo Luis Sandes.

This is not a retrospective, but it gathers photo series the artist created on various moments and occasions. The most relevant photos she took are of indigenous peoples in Brazil. Just like her as a Jew, they were being decimated, especially from 1964 when the military took over the power. The ‘development plan’ aimed at exploring the forest and its natural resources, such as gold and other metals. It caused indigenous peoples to be killed. And as their lands were also in peril so was their way of living. The peoples of the forest rely on their lands and a very deep connection to nature. ‘Cosmovision’ is in fact a common way to refer to their worldview. It is possible to say that Claudia Andujar made a successful effort to represent their cosmovision in photos.

According to the curator, the processes of the artists allow ‘her images to also reveal what can be seen only with one’s eyes closed: dreams and spirits.’

In the 1970s, Andujar took black-and-white photos of a young indigenous lady named Paxo+m+k+ of the Yanomami people. In 1982, she manipulated these photos, so they got green and blue colours (see Image 2). The photos are set in diptychs and are ‘an ode to oneiric and harmony between nature and human being’, following the curator’s words.

‘The Bluish-Green Dream.’ 1972-2012. Photo Luis Sandes.

In 2022, 51 years after Andujar first met the Yanomami, she discovered that she could combine two slides to create a third image which had a surreal aspect. This series is called ‘Yanomami Dreams’ (see Image 3). In her own words, ‘The images that make up the series reveal the Yanomami shamanistic rituals, their meeting with the spirits.’

‘Yanomami Dreams,’ 2022. Photo Luis Sandes.

There are also some photo installations. The most striking is entitled ‘Sonia,’ with photos of a same-named young black lady from Bahia who wanted to be a model but did not have the money to build her portfolio (see Image 4). Andujar offered to take those photos but asked to use some of them for a personal project. The photographer applied different processes to them: cutting, applying coloured filters, rephotographing the slides, etc. This multi-coloured installation was first exhibited at Masp in 1971. Now, 53 years later, artist Leandro Lima, who collaborated with Andujar before, was invited to recreate this artwork.

‘Sonia,’ in collaboration with Leandro Lima, 1971-2023. Photo Luis Sandes.

‘Cosmovision’ will be on display until 30 June 2024. Do not miss the opportunity of having us guide you through this impressive show in a bespoke tour. As experts in Brazilian art history, we can lead you in this show but also at Itau Cultural’s ‘brasiliana,’ which is a collection comprised of items relating to Brazil. They have books, paintings, coins, maps and so on from different periods of history. It is indeed a gorgeous collection. Come spend a couple of hours with us learning a lot about the many Brazils living in Brazil.

Luis Sandes for London Art Walk
April 2024