Photo: Viggo Mortensen
American actor Viggo Mortensen presented in Paraguay the book “Hijos de la Selva” (Children of the Jungle) by Argentine anthropologists Federico Bossert and Diego Villar, a collection of the photographic legacy of German scientist Max Schmidt about the Paraguayan and Brazilian Indians.
The book presented Friday in Asuncion, and which goes on sale Oct. 15, brings back the life and times of the adventurous researcher Schmidt, who traveled tirelessly around the Paraguayan Chaco and Brazil’s Mato Grosso region in the early 20th century, its authors told a press conference.
Schmidt’s photos, chosen personally by Mortensen, show members of indigenous communities that were almost unknown until the German researcher documented them in their daily activities and with stunning portraits shot with a heavy old camera with glass plates that he carried around the jungle.
Schmidt directed the Andres Barbero Ethnographic Museum in Asuncion, which today holds his entire collection of pictures and objects gathered together and classified, and where on Friday the book presentation was held.
The authors tell the story of the German researcher’s misfortunes in South America, and his journeys to remote corners of the Brazilian jungle and the arid Chaco region in northwestern Paraguay, where he was afflicted by malaria and leprosy.
Mortensen, an actor known for the movie saga “The Lord of the Rings,” said that five years ago he got caught up in the project of popularizing Schmidt’s legacy with a book because of the impression the German’s photos made on him.
“The photos are incredible, it’s the first thing that attracted me. This book makes an academic and artistic contribution with portraits full of aesthetic beauty that are perhaps even more important than the mere visual documentation,” Mortensen said.