By Mary Carroll, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Of all the adventures that people come to experience in Rio, it is important not to overlook Rio’s significant arts and culture exhibitions. Renowned Brazilian photographer Sérgio Guerra has arrived in Rio with a stunning exhibition displaying photographs from his time spent living with the remote tribes of the Herero in Angola.
It takes an interesting look at Angola’s indigenous people, whose nomadic way of life has remained relatively unchanged since long before the Portuguese arrived.
The striking images hit the exhibition’s visitors immediately upon arrival. As Guerra follows the Hereros in their every day life, we get to see a range of emotions within the nomadic people, which he captures so alluringly in his close ups.
As Guerra exhibits the rituals, adolescence, manhood and motherhood, the viewer is taken on a visual journey through tribal life. Through the photos it can be seen that his presence is not interpreted to be an intrusive one.
Guerra has been in contact with them over a time-span of ten years, on and off. As they move from place to place, at times he found it difficult to keep track and reconnect with them. Guerra, a photographer from Recife, lived in Luanda where he developed a communication program for the Government of Angola.
This is where he first encountered the Herero. The photographer recalls “with the camera on my wrist, petrified by the novelty, I took the first images of the Mukubais.”
Herero’s live scattered between Angola, Namibia and Botswana. There are different groups within the Herero people such as the Mukubais, Muhimbas, Muhakaonas, Mudimbas.
One of the impressive elements of the exhibition is the holographic projection of Muhakaonas woman. Guerra also includes a documentary of the Herero people. He showcases adornments and objects used in their daily life. The photographer seems to succeed in encompassing a full scope of what it is to be a Herero.
Emanoel Araujo, the curator of the exhibition and director of the Afro-Brazil Museum, explains that “The nature of these people bathed in the sun, the color of the earth, of decorations that are fused with the body itself, with the very soul of these captivating beautiful Herero people.”
The Hereros have managed to intertwine the modern objects that they have come into contact with, into their culture in such a way that they do not look out place amongst these nomadic people. For instance, transforming tin cans into beautiful jewellery in a manner that one would never realize it was previously a tin can.
Araujo highlights the pleasure in learning about the “fascinating adventure of the people that know nature.” He elaborates “The photographer is there for the entire journey [...] through their sufferings with life and with death, for birth and circumcision, and pain, because there is pain in this story too, it’s not only the beautiful things, but you have a bit of everything.”
A truly moving and thought-provoking exhibition, it is definitely inspiring to see. It is being showcased at the National Historical Museum of Rio De Janeiro and runs from now until July 8th. It costs R$6 and includes access to other areas of the museum. There is free entrance on Sundays.