(this page was last updated in August 2023)
São Paulo, Brazil, 1990
Lives and works in Terra Indígena Xakriabá – São João Das Missões, Brazil
PIPA Prize 2023 nominee
Edgar Kanaykõ Xakriabá is a native of the Xakriabá Indigenous Land, located between the municipalities of São João das Missões and Itacarambi, in the state of Minas Gerais. He is a photographer of the Xakriabá indigenous people, who belong to the second largest indigenous linguistic group in the country, the Macro-Jê of the Jê family, Akwẽ subdivision. Kanaykõ holds a degree in Intercultural Training for Indigenous Educators (Fiei/UFMG) and a Master’s degree in Social (visual) Anthropology from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). His dissertation, Etnovisão: “the indigenous gaze that crosses the lens”, (2019), is a discussion on the use of photography by indigenous peoples as an instrument of struggle and resistance and the concept of image, it is the first carried out by an indigenous researcher in UFMG graduate program. His composition is based on photographic records of his Xakriabá community, other peoples, as well as manifestations of the indigenous movement in the country.
Video produced by Do Rio Filmes exclusively for PIPA 2023:
In addition to activities as a photographer and researcher, Kanaykõ has already taught audiovisual workshops at the Casa de Cultura Xakriabá for young people, an initiative of the Xakriabá Indigenous Association of Aldeia Barreiro Preto, to which he is linked. Between 2013 and 2015, he co-organized the National Meeting of Indigenous Students, an event that brings together leaders, indigenous and non-indigenous undergraduate and graduate students, and researchers for collective reflection and mobilization, working on issues related to interculturality and the decolonization of current teaching models in Brazil. Edgar Kanaykõ Xakriabá has awards, works and exhibitions published on websites, newspapers, books, magazines and in academic articles, inside and outside the country, where he can highlight: 2018, award in the Photojournalistic / Documentary Brasília Photo Show category; Photograph selected by National
Geographic/Brazil, 2018; in 2019, he participates in the collective show Mundos Indígenas, in the UFMG knowledge space; Shows Urgency and Resistance at the Festival Internacional du Documentaire Èrmegente (FIDÉ) Paris/France (2019); in 2020, he wins the Science & Art Photography Award, an initiative of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) with the photographic work Iny: the brightness of the charms; collective exhibition Véxoa: A Gente Sabe (Pinacoteca de São Paulo, 2020, curated by Naine Terena); “Tropical Forest: Ancestors and Dystopia” at the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation/Miami, curated by Eder Chiodetto; Masp Exhibition “Brazilian Stories”, section “Retomadas”, 2022; Selected by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting | Indigenous Photography / Coal+Ice Exhibition in Washington, D.C. 2022; “Kâ | Somos rios” doc/curta Selected for the San José Foto 2023 “International Photography Festival”, in the multimedia category, Uruguay. In addition, his first photobook entitled “Hêmba” is in progress, which will be released in 2023 by the Photo publishing house and will address the multiple meanings of the image, mainly from the perspective of knowledge of indigenous peoples.
Kanaykõ sees the production of photographic images as a means of recording aspects of a people’s culture and life. For him, photography and audiovisual media are also a tool of struggle for indigenous peoples, by allowing the “other” (non-indigenous) to see what he (indigenous) is with another look. In the Akwẽ language, the word hêmbha means spirit or soul, but it can also mean image, photograph. According to Kanaykõ, photography is initially frowned upon by indigenous communities, who begin to appropriate it as a way of “revealing what
the eyes cannot see”. The reverse anthropology proposed by the artist, performing ethnophotography from an indigenous perspective, seeks to establish a relationship with language that also incorporates the spiritual world, paying attention to the dangers of involving the sacred and the secret elements that must be protected according to the precepts cultural . The artist says that, during a ritual or festival, for many indigenous peoples, for example, who decides what can or cannot be recorded is not who has the camera in their hands, but rather the entities or spirits, mediated by shamans, who also negotiate with the community. The concern and commitment to his community and its traditions permeate the artist’s production, always attentive to what is allowed and what is not allowed, from the capture to the use of the image, as well as the ways of reading that his work finds between your people.