Anderson Schneider June 10, 2008Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Brazil.
Tags: Anderson Schneider, Brazil, Leperosy
Barradas Alho, 86 years old. Leper Colony, Brazil. 2005
Anderson Schneider is an independent Brazilian-based photographer represented by WpN and Grazia Neri. Working self-assigned, as well as for newspapers, magazines and international organizations, he strongly believes that a camera, a photograph, a news page can make the world a more real place to live in. Anderson is 33 years-old and was nominated twice as a finalist for the W. Eugene Smith Grant (USA, 2006 & 2007), received the Special Prize for Humanistic Photography at the IV Pleven Biennial of Photography (Bulgaria, 2005) and also two prizes at the NPPA Best of Photojournalism (USA, 2005 & 2007). He lives in Brasilia with his wife Adriana and his new-born daughter Anna.
About the Photograph:
During almost all of the 20th century, the treatment for leperosy in Brazil was understood as the total confinement of the patient in a sanitarium. These people were taken from their homes and families, many of them under gunpoint by the so-called Sanitary Police, and locked up in small isolated communities, usually forever. After 1976, due to the changes in the policy for the treatment of this disease, these colonies were partially or totally deactivated and the patients were abandoned without any policy for social reintegration. Without any place else to go, they were confined to these archaic structures until now, dying one-by-one, slow and silently.
The story of these abandoned people has been under-reported in Brazil – and in the rest of the world – for years, due to the cruel aspect of the disease and society’s difficulty in confronting its own indifference. Regardless of the reason, their death cannot be considered a solution for a situation that the established social order seems unable to fix. After a life spent in isolation, these men and women are also being excluded from history.
I decided to work on this project because nobody else wanted to do it. It is such a huge, profound and sad story that struck and dragged me since the moment I knew about it. I simply could not – and still can’t – understand how such a fact could be happening right now, in the very 21st century. I started photographing this communiy in the end of 2005 and have since done my best to give shape and tone to the saddest, loudest whisper I have ever heard.