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Where the River Runs Through

Aaron Vincent Elkaim | Brazil

March 29, 2014. A group of boys climb a tree on the Xingu River by the city of Altamira, Para State, Brazil. Major areas of the city have been permanently flooded by the construction of the nearby Belo Monte Dam Complex displacing over 20,000 people while impacting numerous indigenous and riverine communities in the region.

In 2007, Brazilian President Lula da Silva announced the Accelerated Growth Program. A cornerstone of the program was the construction of over 60 major Hydroelectric projects in the Amazon with Belo Monte Dam at the forefront. The energy generated would fuel mining initiatives and power cities thousands of miles away. Nearing completion, Belo Monte will be the fourth largest dam in the world, and has displaced over 20,000 people. On the neighboring Tapajos River, the last undammed tributary of the Amazon River, the Munduruku tribe has been fighting with success to prevent a similar fate.

Hydroelectric dams are touted as clean and renewable sources of energy, but large dams are often anything but, with hundreds of square miles of land flooded and complex river ecosystems permanently transformed. In the Amazon they release huge amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, while new infrastructure opens the forest to increased logging, mining, and agriculture. The result is the erosion of the Amazon Rainforest and the sacrifice of communities who depend on the river and forest ecosystems for their way of life.

As a documentary photographer, my work explores the tension between the demands of economic and industrial progress and humanities primordial relationship to the natural world. Looking to ask questions about who we are and where we are going. For my series "Where the River Runs Through" I explore the consequences of hydroelectric expansion in the Amazon Rainforest.


The Alexia Foundation


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