The first known photographs of peoples of the Xingu were taken in the 1880s and 1890s during expeditions of German ethnologists. In these records, which circulated in books and written accounts in Europe, indigenous peoples are represented as exotic subjects for study.
In the 1920s, the Rondon Commission captured the first moving images in the region. A propaganda exercise designed to integrate indigenous peoples into the idea of a national project, the film ends with a symbolic scene: a line of indigenous people being dressed in uniforms. And a sign announcing: “Soon we will have more of these workers living with us in our society.”
In the 1940s, the Serviço de Proteção ao Índio (SPI) [Indian Protection Service] produced extensive documentation, in which the iconography of contact is repeated with mounting intensity: a tense approach, the supply of clothes and objects, and indigenous peoples being co-opted to join in expeditions.
This iconography has been revisited in indigenous audiovisual production in films that reveal what archive images cannot: the point of view of the peoples contacted. Here we have two examples of this production, revealing memories of the Xavante and Ikpeng.