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The Independent Culture
A vast map of the Amazon takes centre stage at the Photographers' Gallery this month. It forms part of "Novas Travessias", a richly varied exhibition of photographic works by 17 of Brazil's most innovative artists, which reflects the political, social and economic realities of contemporary Brazil.

The Amazon river, in particular, has inspired three separate bodies of work, placed strategically around the map on the wall to emphasise the river's domination of Brazilian landscape and politics. Paula Sampaio's critical document on the building of the contentious Trans-Amazonian highway highlights its effects on the local people. Meanwhile, Elza Lima has created surreal portraits of Brazil's black community while Eustaquio Neves has produced a surreal portrait of rural indigenous communities and Luiz Braga has produced poetic evocations of the light and colour of the Guama River.

Elsewhere, Bauer Sa and Jose Albano have used photography to highlight the identities of the country's many cultural groups: Sa has made exquisite portraits of Brazil's black community; Neves has produced elaborately scratched and treated monoprints of the Arturos, a small community descended from one of the last Brazilian slaves; and Albano was commissioned to photograph the Tapebas, an Indian community living in poverty on the outskirts of Fortaleza.

In his moving close-up portraits of Tapeba children, he has used darkroom processes to remove sores and blemishes from their faces, transforming stereotypical victims into beautiful individuals.


The Photographers' Gallery, 7 & 8 Great Newport Street, London WC2 (0171- 831 1772) to 16 Mar. A book to accompany the exhibition is priced pounds 45 (hardback); pounds 14.95 (paperback)