The mythic ‘landscape’ of Amazonian shamans

Drawings from the Wauja community in the Amazonian Rainforest
The development of the notion of landscape in Modern Europe is one of the major contributions to the way we perceive the relationships between humans and non-humans.
 
Landscape, as one of the modes of representation of these relationships, is rooted in topological representation of space, a sense of place and an objective special sensibility, and is one of the fundamental expressions of the artistic traditions of Europe.
 
However, such notions and such a pictorial representation of space is absent in many other world art traditions and artistic expressions.   
 
Amazonia is one such case. To its native inhabitants, who have no tradition of spatial representation, it is the food chain and the shifting relationships between predator and prey in a number of specific habitats that matter.
 
Habitats can be visually represented through the enhanced capacities of their inhabitants to act as predators. Thus, a fish that eats other fishes is a ‘super fish’, normally depicted as a monster; it is a metonymy of aquatic habitats, in other words, it stands as a symbol or indicator of the whole habitat. In that sense, it becomes a kind of equivalent of what in a western context would be a landscape.
 
The Wauja Amazonian drawings from Brazil, shown in this exhibition are examples of a pattern of thought, conventionally called shamanism.  Principally, shamanism is a mode of understanding the internal and subjective continuities between humans and animals.  Body transformation is its key concept. Some drawings make a clear statement that the effect of body transformation is the acquisition of the point of view of the other.
 
Aristoteles Barcelos Neto