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A member of the Guajajara forest guard in a moment of sadness at the sight of a tree felled by suspected illegal loggers on the Arariboia indigenous reserve in Maranhao state. (Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac)

Deforestation in southern Maranhao state as seen from a helicopter belonging to the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources. Maranhao is one of the areas worst affected by fires and illegal logging. (Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac)

The Italian photojournalist Tommaso Protti’s work on the Brazilian Amazon is the winner of the 10th Carmignac Photojournalism Award. This award was created in 2009 by Édouard Carmignac to support photographers and their work in the field. He did this at a time when media and photojournalism were facing a crisis in being able to fund work. The crisis has not abated, and the Carmignac Photojournalism Award annually funds the production of investigative photo reportage on human rights violations and geostrategic issues.

Protti joins nine other photojournalists who have been given the award. They include Yuri Kozyrev and Kadir van Lohuizen and their work on the Arctic; Lizzie Sadin and her work in Nepal; Narciso Contreras and his work in Libya; and Newsha Tavakolian and her work in Iran.

Protti worked from January to July alongside the British journalist Sam Cowie, traveling thousands of miles across the Brazilian Amazon to produce this work. Together, the two journalists created a remarkable document, portraying day-to-day life in the Brazilian Amazon, a place that is grappling with social and humanitarian crises concurrently with the destruction of the rainforest.

Protti’s resulting photographs are both haunting and poetic, presenting a harrowing picture of what life is like for people living in the Brazilian Amazon. In a news release about the work, Protti says:

“I wanted to illustrate the social transformations, focusing on the veiled truth of the bloodshed and destruction that are currently taking place in the region. These diverse forms of violence are the consequences of changes in the global market, as well as of the exponential increase of global consumption, from cocaine to beef. Scientists claim the forest is reaching a point of no return because of deforestation, fueled by illegal logging, and because of land grabbing, agricultural expansion, state- and private-sector-led development and resource extraction projects. I believe it is important to raise awareness of this situation and question it.”

Protti’s work takes us deep into the Brazilian Amazon to examine the crisis that is taking place there. We see this through his lens as he introduces us to indigenous activists fighting to protect the forest and shows the destruction wrought by loggers and land grabbers.

Protti’s work is on exhibit now at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris and on the Hotel de Ville gates until Feb. 16, 2020. It is also available in a beautifully rendered catalogue co-published by Fondation Carmignac and Reliefs Editions.

You can find out more about the prize at the foundation’s website here.


Wildcat miners in a bar in Crepurizao, a gold-mining town in southwestern Para state. The town’s entire economy revolves around illegal gold extraction. (Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac)

A drunken homeless man walks waist-deep in garbage-filled water at the port area of Manaus. Founded by Jesuit priests on the banks of the Rio Negro, Manaus grew from a quiet jungle outpost to a metropolis of 2 million in the forest. It is the richest and most populous city of the Brazilian Amazon but also has dire socioeconomic indicators. (Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac)

Kayapo children play behind a waterfall in the Kuben-Kran Ken village, in Para state. The Kayapo’s territory is the largest tropical protected area in the world. It is a crucial barrier to deforestation advancing from the south. (Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac)

A sign is erected to claim occupation of the Santa Lucia farm in the municipality of Pau d’Arco in Para state. In May 2017, the farm was the site of a bloody massacre in which 10 land-rights activists were killed by police. The property is occupied by 197 families from the Poor Peasants League. (Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac)

A leader of landless peasants at a camp near Canaa dos Carajas in Para state. Brazil’s Landless Worker’s Movement fights for agrarian reform nationwide. Forty percent of farmers operate on less than 1.2 percent of Brazil's cultivable land. (Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac)

Members of the Guajajara forest guard patrolling the Arariboia indigenous reserve in Maranhao state beat another indigenous man whom they suspect of collaborating with illegal loggers. (Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac)

Paulo Paulino, 25, a.k.a Lobo Mau (“Bad Wolf”), was killed Nov. 1, 2019, in an ambush by illegal loggers inside the Arariboia Indigenous Land. He was a member of the Guajajara forest guard in Maranhao state. (Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac)

Evangelical Christians worshipping. Brazil is the world’s most populous Roman Catholic nation, but U.S.-style evangelicalism accounts for about a quarter of the population. In the Amazon states, evangelical megachurches are present in urban centers, while tiny churches, little more than shacks, proliferate in isolated river towns. (Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac)

A fire rages in a forest 60 miles outside Porto Velho in the Rondonia state. More than 80,000 fires have broken out in the Amazon rainforest in 2019. Most are agricultural, but illegal land-grabbers also destroy trees to boost the value of the property they seize. (Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac)

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