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Andy Richter August 13, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Brazil.

The Oro Win. Amazonas, Brazil 2010

Andy Richter (b. 1977, USA) is a photographer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His clients include Time, National Geographic Traveler, UNICEF, Outside, AARP and The Times of India, among others. His work is represented by Aurora Photos. Created in the Amazon Basin, his photographs with the Oro Win tribe, led to a solo exhibition organized by the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as a feature in Ode Magazine. At home, he spent countless hours with his grandmother, who recently passed away at the age of 93. This time together resulted in a personal project called “Louise and I” about their wonderful friendship in the last years of her life. Andy looked at the topics of health, self-worth, personal transformation, and body image in his project about Childhood Obesity that went on to be published in Time Magazine.

About the Photograph:

“Living deep in the Amazon Basin of Brazil, the Oro Win are an indigenous tribe on the cusp of change. Six native speakers of their traditional language remain while the next generation speaks only Portuguese. As the words of their ancestors fade away, so does much of the culture and knowledge embodied in them. The tribe consists of 16 or so households, perhaps 70 people, spread around São Luís Indian Post on the bank of the Pacaas Novos River. Josh Birchall, a linguist and Fulbright scholar who studies the Oro Win language hopes to record and document as much as possible before it’s too late.”

“Josh’s primary source, Ti’omi, a hunched over old man in his 80’s, is the only person alive who was a full grown adult at the time of first contact. His vocabulary is the most extensive of any Oro Win and his voice resonates in a way that takes the listener to a different time. Ti’omi knows the stories no one else knows, he laughs a lot and is very lighthearted and free in his manner. Before leaving São Luís, he asked Josh, “when will you be back to see me?”, to which he replied, “not for a year or more”, as he needed to return to Holland to work on his dissertation. Ti’omi replied, Oh…well, you won’t see me then, my eyes want to close, gesturing to the pain in his back, knowing that his time in body is limited. When that time comes, much will go with him, never to be heard again.”

“Living in modern times, with two hours of electricity each evening via generator, the tribe’s primary outside influences are soap operas, which they watch with adoration, as well as music videos, and soccer…unexpected given their remote location in the middle of the rainforest. As a people, the Oro Win are at a pivotal moment. They live with one foot in the past, one in the future; hunting, cooking monkey over a fire, weaving baskets, and working with feathers by day, and then playing with cell phone cameras and watching booty shakin’ music and drama by night.”