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"...we  have become a part of the Amazon Rainforest by breathing its clean air, drinking and bathing in its freshwater, eating its vibrant fruits, witnessed and felt its exuberance, it is intensely alive – this life force is now within us."


(Top middle image) Screen shot of drone footage at Balbina Hydroelectric Dam by Hilnado Mendes.


Art Immersion Program in the Amazon


LABVERDE is an intensive residency program designed for artists and creators who are eager to reflect on nature and landscape, to experience the influence of the world's largest tropical forest in the conception and development of art; exploring the connection between art, the natural environment and science.


During the program along with sixteen local and international artists Man&Wah was immersed in a diverse range of lectures, discussions, workshops and field trips with local naturalist guides, physicist/cosmologist, biologist, philosopher, ecologist, horticulturist, mycologist, artist, architect/urban planners, ornithologist, curators, forest scientists and people engaging within the local slow food movements utilising indigenous ingredients.

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Adolfo Ducke Forest Reserve (Reserva Florestal Adolpho Ducke) is a 10,000 hectare protected area on the outskirts of Manaus. It was established in 1963 in honour of entomologist and botanist Adolfo Ducke who was a well respected expert on Amazonian flora. The reserve is an important research sites in the Amazon because it is relatively intact and easily accessible from the city of Manaus. The reserve includes areas for researchers to stay for extended periods to carry out research and is one of the most intensively studied patches of rain forest in the world.

(Top image) Where the trees meets the sky. Magnificent early morning scenery of the Amazon Rainforest taken on top of the ZF2 observation tower at 45m high. To experience the rainforest above the canopy - seeing the bleeding orange sun rising in the horizon, hearing the forest wake up, gazing at the early morning sunlight slowly scraping across the trees; the rainforest is Alive. (Above image by Hilnado Mendes) The enormity and beauty of nature was breathtaking mixed with moments of grief and sorrow knowing that there was people who deliberately choose to destroy this life and blindsided to see other possible options.

(Middle row images above from left to right) Field trip to the ZF2 observation tower in the Adolfo Ducke Forest Reserve - Artist Yifeat Ziv recording the constant sounds of life emulating from the rainforest. It was amazing to sonically experience the Amazon Rainforest through Yifeat’s audio perspective and art practice. Climbing up to the tallest point of the tower and overlooking the rainforests expansiveness; its endless vibrant shades of greens and blues as far as the eyes can see. The place was teeming with life. Screen shot from drone footage by Hilnando of  ZF2 observation tower.


(Images above from left to right)

1) Sunrise at the ZF2 observation tower at Adolfo Ducke Forest Reserve 45m above the forest canopy.   2) Exploring and observing along a section of the Rio Negro River in the Amazon.   3) A field trip exploring the vibrant insect life of the rainforest with Amazonian entomologist Fabricio Baccaro, sharing knowledge of his studies on insects and how they contribute to the rainforest ecosystem.   4) Sound artist Luisa Lemgruber and Yifeat Ziv during their collaborative performance. They both used materials from the rainforest - such as leaves, branches, hard nut shells, water from the river etc and expressed the objects into audio form.   5) Viennese solo violinist ​Sara Michieletto performing next to a Buttress root of a Samauma tree. Prior the performance she tune her violin to resonate with the acoustics of the tree root.   6) Film maker Hilnando Mendes assisting modern/classical dancer Vera Mantero to record and document her dance series inside the rainforest.   7) Physicist Luiz Alberto giving an insightful talk about space & time in relation to civilisation.   8) Reflective moment during sunset on a field trip to the Balbina Hydroelectric Dam, the duality of visual beauty and ecological destruction causes by construction of the dam.   9) Man Cheung photographing the sunrise on a section of the ZF2 observation tower. 10) Arriving at the ZF2 at observation tower at dawn to watch the Amazon sunrise.   11) Man & Wah recording nature content inside the Adolfo Ducke Forest Reserve; where they encountered a group of Howler monkeys.   12) Poet, philosopher and celebrated artist of this generation Roberto Evangelista, presenting a talk about his life experiences, art, indigenous communities, shamanism and the human experience in connection to nature.   13) Artist accommodation at the Adolfo Ducke Forest Reserve.   14) Two sisters from Slow Food Manaus prepared an amazing sampling presentation of indigenous foods available in the State of Amazonas. 15) Exploring and observing the intense abundance of wildlife along a section of the Rio Negro River with Ornithologist Mario Cohn-Haft who specialises in Amazonian birds, with emphasis on biogeography.


The lush ambience of the rainforest combined with the programs diverse spectrum of presenters and activities gave valuable insights of how ecosystems affect each other and are intimately connected. This sparked inspiration for deeper individual reflections and many long open conversations in a wide range of pressing topics that ultimately lead back to climate issues and the way humans collectively (or non-collectively) operate as a global society; how that affects the natural environment around us that fundamentally keeps us alive and supports the physical and mental well being of everyone on Earth.


Throughout the program Man&Wah immersed themselves with other artists through discussions, collaborations, exchanging thoughts and creative ideas, and experienced the Amazon Rainforest through the perspective of other attending artists to understand how they viewed and experienced the natural environment.

(Images above) Sampling the colourful spectrum of local indigenous foods & ingredients from the State of Amazonas regions. Two sisters from the local slow food movement based in Manaus discussed the significant values of food sovereignty, agrobiodiversity, history, and the use of the local Brazilian ingredients.


The slow food presentation further reinforced the intrinsic connection of life, nature, earth and the cosmos as inseparable – we  have become a part of the Amazon Rainforest by breathing its clean air, drinking and bathing in its freshwater, eating its vibrant fruits, witnessed and felt its exuberance, it is intensely alive – this life force is now within us. 


(Above left) Looking for luminescent fungi with mycologist Juli Simon.  (Above right) The various fungi collected during the field trip with mycologist Juli Simon.  (Images below) A collection of beautiful natural items from the Adolfo Ducke Forest Reserve for photographing, they include - snail shells, deconstructed flowers, fungi growing on bark, seeds during the slow food presentation.


(Top image) Screen shot from drone footage recorded by filmmaker Hilnado Mendes, capturing the incredible ‘Meeting of the Waters’ phenomena along the Amazon River. Where the ‘lighter half’ of the water - the rich sediments running down from the Andes Mountains which include sand, mud and silt along the Solimões River that stretches over a 1600km distance, meets the darker side of the Rio Negro - getting its ‘black tea’ colour from the leaf and plant matter that has decayed and dissolved in the water. The Solimões River and Rio Negro flow side-by-side over 6km, because of the differences in temperature, speed and water density of each river the waters do not mix.  (Middle image) Another screen shot from drone footage of everyone taking a break on a hot humid day swimming in the Rio Negro river. (Above four image) Various tree trunks in different locations of the Amazon Rainforest and the way it adapts to the environment.


(Images above) Lettered Aracari, Pteroglossus inscriptus and Rupicola rupicola, Guianan cock-of-the-rock


Following the Labverde residency Man&Wah spent time at INPA (National Institute of Amazonian Research or Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia) in Manaus. Founded in 1952 INPA is a public educational and research institution with an impressive collection of vertebrate, invertebrate, and vascular plants. Research conducted by the the institute ranges from forest management, ecology, molecular ecology, zoology, botany, tropical agriculture and tropical pisciculture.


During their INPA visit Man&Wah was given access to the comprehensive taxidermy bird collection headed by INPA’s Curator of Birds and Ornithologist Mario Cohn-Haft; his life times work of bird research and identification in the Amazonia region. We hope to share more images of the amazing birds specimens we photographed soon on this website.


This residency has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.


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