Amazônia: Life and Death in the Brazilian Rainforest
From January to July 2019, Italian photojournalist Tommaso Protti, accompanied by British journalist Sam Cowie, traveled thousands of miles across the Brazilian Amazon to create this reportage. From the eastern region of Maranhão to the western region of Rondônia, through the states of Pará and Amazonas, they portrayed life in modern-day Brazilian Amazon, where social and humanitarian crises overlap with the ongoing destruction of the rainforest.
The Amazon accounts for half of the remaining tropical forests on the planet and is home to 70% of the world’s biodiversity, but the development of economic activities in the region mean that this ecosystem is under more threat than ever before. Photographer Tommaso Protti recounts the retreating of the region and the damage inflicted by its deforestation, with scenes of illegal gold mines gnawing voraciously into the subsoil, jungle cemeteries where stranded trees form tombstone crosses, abject killings to steal a few acres of land or a pinch of drugs, unhealthy favelas burned by devastating fires, scenes of drunkenness, prostitution or cocaine-laced insanity in the heat of these tropical mean streets.
Tommaso Protti has taken his keen-eyed camera into the deepest corners of Amazonia to illustrate uncompromising testimonies of its inhabitants: a forester crying over a fallen tree; a gold digger, his fingers gnawed away by his fever for the metal; a little girl lost after her homeland has been flooded by a hydro-electric dam; a drug dealer arrested in the middle of an interview. All subjects share the same feelings: saudade for the past, distress about the present and despair for the future. Protti’s keen-edged camera captures the reality of the Amazon that has already been wiped out in the last 50 years, with up to 30% more expected to be lost by 2050.
The photographs raise awareness of the local, and global, degradation currently taking place in the Amazon due to climate change and human activity, while offering a glimpse into the modern everyday life of one of the world’s most extraordinary regions and its inhabitants.