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Terra Vermelha
Tommaso Protti

Terra Vermelha, Tommaso Protti

Terra Vermelha, Tommaso ProttiTerra Vermelha
Tommaso Protti
English, Spanish


224 pages
210 x 278 mm
ISBN 9786185479008


The Amazon Rainforest—often referred to as Lungs of our Planet—has long been idealised as a dense, green expanse and a pristine sanctuary inhabited by isolated tribes. Terra Vermelha, the culmination of 10-years work by photographer Tommaso Protti, presents an alternative portrait of the region. Depicting fields ablaze, the dark river as a conduit for cocaine trafficking and urban areas plagued by violence—the images in the book depict a dystopia, dispelling such romanticised notions.

“As I sat in my hotel room in Marabá, a city in the Amazon state of Parà, Jornal Nacional – Brazil’s flagship news program – transmitted images of the country’s newly elected president, Jair Bolsonaro: “The indigenous in their reservations are like animals in a zoo,” he said. It was November 2018. […] It seemed like a threat, an omen of bad times ahead. I felt that the slow-motion social and environmental breakdown I had seen in the previous years in the Amazon was about to get worse.”

Terra Vermelha, which means ‘red earth’, opens with visions of a paradise lost. Protti’s photographs show rural areas transformed by deforestation, where land conflicts are commonplace between cattle ranchers, landless peasants and environmental activists. The images in the book journey on to urban areas and shantytowns where Protti was given access following police operations to document the rising violence, mainly related to the drug trade. Further photographs show the hold of evangelical religion on the region, the impact of the COVID pandemic, and the construction of new towns and recently expanded cities such as Altamira, famous for both its hydro-power dam and for being Brazil’s murder capital in 2017.

The book eschews a traditional narrative format to present a nightmarish vision of the impacts of intersecting social and environmental crises. Protti’s uncaptioned black and white images often have a sense of movement and imply events unfolding both before and after the frame. Many images were taken fleetingly at night, leading the viewer blindly around the region.

About the Artist
Tommaso Protti is an Italian-born photographer who has been based in Brazil for almost a decade. He has dedicated himself to long-term projects focusing on themes such as crime, the environment, and rural conflict. His work has been featured in global publications and exhibited worldwide.

About the Publisher
Void is an independent publishing house dedicated to photography books and education. The project is driven by its founders Myrto Steirou and João Linneu. You might bump into Myrto, Void’s editor, at a book fair or festival in a far flung part of the globe, but you’ll usually find her in Greece, at their store in Athens. João, Void’s designer, is based in Reykjavík… it’s entirely possible that you may not meet him (in person at least). Void works with both established and up-and-coming artists, proudly fostering photographers’ debut books.

Void has collaborated with many international art institutions since we started, back in October 2016. In 2021 Void became one of Futures Photography’s members. Void is devoted to and passionate about the projects they undertake. In their books, you will find powerful stories and innovative design, melded together with fine and experimental material.