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Exhibitions and Events

People of the River

People of the River: Photography and video exhibit by Marcin Szczepanski

People of the River captures the life of so called ribeirinhos (river people) that inhabit the Pantanal region in Brazil. Pantanal, located roughly in the center of South America, is one of the largest wetlands in the world, with a wonderfully diverse ecosystem.

The author portrays the changing nature of life in Pantanal and how its residents cope with the environmental, social and economic challenges around them. The exhibit also documents the work of Pantanal Partnership, the collaboration of U-M students with Pantanal’s residents and schools that aims to provide healthy water and renewable energy to the area by building water filters, bio-digesters and wind turbines.

The exhibit focuses on the relationship of the river people with nature and ways it differs from the Western approach. The desire to control nature has permeated Western culture for generations. In general, Westerners have focused on taming, manicuring and separating themselves from nature. In People of the River, the author explores a different kind of relationship between people and nature. In that relationship, man does not focus on the control and amendment of nature, but rather works within a given landscape to sustain his family and to adapt to the surrounding environment. In that world, indigenous fishermen share the narrow strips of land and the vast body of water with jaguars, caimans, piranhas and hundreds of other species.


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