Tommaso Protti

Terra Vermelha


The Amazon Rainforest is often referred to as the ‘Lungs of our Planet,’ still imagined as the unspoiled home of isolated, disconnected tribes. A thick, green stain on the map — the world’s largest — laid there by the hand of God, with no sign of man’s.

From up close though, it’s way more than woods, mines and dams: cities have grown out of the jungle, into a green favela. Fields are burning, and the dark, steady stream of the Amazon river a safe conduct for cocaine. The riverbanks are littered with trash, and bodies.

“Terra Vermelha,” which means red earth, is essentially a portrait of the modern day Brazilian Amazon that explores and illustrates the intersecting social and environmental crises of the region, in the states of Pará, Amazonas, Maranhao, Rondonia and Roraima.



In recent years, environmental destruction, rural and urban violence have reached unprecedented heights in the region.

The urban centres have become amongst the most violent in the world, the result of rapid and uncontrolled urban expansion that continue to grow and drug wars from increased cocaine production while Amazon pirates stalk the river robbing and killing as well as migrants brought by the crisis in neighbouring Venezeula and economic migrants to work on mega projects.

The region is the deadliest in the world for land rights, environmental and Indigenous activists who are terrorized by land grabbers and violent extractive gangs in a violent grab for the regions vast natural resources. Poverty stricken illegal wildcat miners and timber cutters.



Deforestation, unregulated development, pollution, crime. All of these scenarios are driven by the same forces; poverty, weak institutions, corruption and savage self-interest. More than in other places, in the Amazon region it becomes clear that land is worth more than human life. And on the path towards the destruction of the planet, the first and closest step for mankind is still its own annihilation.


Short Bio

Tommaso Protti is an Italian photographer based in São Paulo, Brazil. He started his photographic career in 2011 after graduating in Political Science and International Relations. Since then, he has devoted himself on creating his own long-term projects. His works were exhibited internationally in The Royal Albert Hall (London), Greenwich Heritage Centre (Woolwich, UK), Benaki Museum (Athens), MACRO Museum of Contemporary Arts (Rome), 10b Photography Gallery (Rome), Fotoleggendo (Rome), Les Recontres d’Arles (France), Prix Bayeux-Calvados des Correspondants de Guerre festival (France), Belfast Photo (Ireland), C40 Mayors Summit (Mexico City), UN COP22 (Marrakesh, Marocco), PARTE Contemporary Art Fair (São Paulo, Brazil). Tommaso’s work was published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, National Geographic, The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Independent, Le Monde, Corriere della Sera, etc.


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