DISTANT NEIGHBORS by Micha Ende
There are not more distanced countries on this planet than China and Brazil. Chinese and Brazilians are “antipodes”. Brazil was “discovered” only a little more then 500 years ago by the portuguese conquerors, as China looks back to 5000 years of history. But they are united lately by there efforts to become 2 of the leading nations in the new century. Brazilian’s former President Lula is constantly repeating how many things China and Brazil have in common.
After living nearly 30 years in Brazil, and having had the privilege, made possible by my profession as a photo journalist and video film maker for major international magazines, to travel throughout this beautiful, so diversified country, I onlyf started to “discover” China from the beginning of 2008 on. And I must say, President Lula is completely right about Brazil and China – and he is also completely wrong...
Yes, Brazilians are often like Chinese. They are open hearted, friendly, happy and proud – especially on the countryside. Neither Brazilians nor Chinese are shy in front of the foreigner’s camera. They laugh, they smile, even with nearly no teeth in their mouth. Between the portrait of the happy Xavante indigenous warrior (with the 2 front teeth lacking) and the laughing shephart near Pingyi, Shandong Province, also with teeth problems, are not only 20 000 kilometers of distance, but also nearly a quarter of the century. The Xavante Indian I met during my first STERN assignment in Brazil.. I didn’ t speak the Xavante indigenous language, and he did not know portuguese. But we understood each other.
In the same situation I found myself in with the shephard in march of 2009. The camera helped me again to overcome the language barrier. Take a look at the portraits of the girls in Juruena National Park, at the Amazon, and the three girls pointing a camera at me - and me at them. Right , the pictures “match” – but do they show more similarities or differences? How distant are these “distant neighbors”This exhibition marks for m a new beginning, it is “work in progress” – and I am excited to find out in the next 30 years, how far and how close Brazil and China really are.
MICHA ENDE, 1-07-2009