Culture, Globe, Multiculture, Our People, United Kingdom, Visual Arts

Angelika Berndt and the invisible culture

She has worked on projects in Africa, Asia and Europe, although her work is based mainly around Latin America, the region in which she grew up. The Prisma’s Memoirs. February 2015.


Angelika Berndt_05Juanjo Andres Cuervo


 She first started in photography by helping the non-government organisation Anti Slavery International in Brazil, her country of birth, and since then she has undertaken a large number of projects, in colour and in black-and-white.

One of her latest works, Hondureño, was presented in London.

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In it there are photos of people that live in small communities in Honduras. Angelika calls these people “the invisible culture”, and through the photos she seeks to show the beauty that there is in those villages, as she is an admirer of the traditional way that they live: people who care about each other, who respect and protect the environment. She says that she “falls in love with” the people that she works with, she listens to their stories and tries to capture the situation through photography.

In the future she wants to keep doing projects based on these communities, with the idea of photographing miners being one of her biggest wishes.

The Prisma talked to the photographer Angelika Berndt about this and other things.

How did you get started in photography?

A few years ago I was working in human rights with the NGO Anti Slavery International. I was working on a project about the campaign against modern slavery in Brazil. I always carried my camera with me to take photos of the situations and the people. It was a witness to the field. But the big change happened a few years later, when I had the opportunity to work full-time.

You have taken photos in different countries….Angelika Berndt_08

I focus mostly on Latin America. I am very fond of it as I grew up in Brazil. I still have a lot of contacts there and so I take on private projects on this continent. I have been going for many years to countries like Costa Rica and Honduras.

But I am also open to working in other countries, for example I have already been taking photos in China and on the African continent.

You grew up in Brazil and you’ve lived in the United States and Europe. What has each region brought you in terms of photography?

Every country has a special aesthetic and a different culture, but I identify the most with Brazilian art.

Pernambuco 2013During your stay in Brazil, you took photos to support organisations. Is it possible, through photographs, to help those groups?

I think that often photography is a better language than speaking. Words are abstract and we understand them through our own experience of life. On the other hand, a photo has the capacity to take a reality that you have never experienced and give you contact with this reality.

While working on the piece Hondureño, you went to see the small communities in Honduras. What way of life do they have there?

They are very traditional, in two meanings of the word: in their way of working with the environment and in their way of being with people. They know each other, they respect each other, they know each other’s stories and they know how to support each other.

As well as that they live for the environment. In a big city like London, for example, people have another way of living together, under anonymity.

Why doesn’t this close relationship happen in big cities?

It is the magic of community. You also have them in big cities, but they are small and hidden. Of course, eye contact is more difficult because they are often within houses.

Angelika Berndt_04On an emotional level, how do you make a photographic report on this topic?

Usually I fall in love with the objects I work with and I love the people. I adore the way of living and talking to them, taking your time to learn their stories. A person’s story makes it so that I can see them and photograph them.

You call the people that live in communities “the invisible culture”. Do your photos make them more “visible”?

That is the aim, to see and know these people so that they might have some visibility.

I want to show their beauty and the strength that these people have, they are very valuable.

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Where did your interest in taking pictures of people come from?

I have always loved people and learning their stories.

You also take photos in black and white.

I use them to give a different message. I think that colour is very beautiful but on occasion it is distracting. Black and white is another moment of language.

Are you planning any future projects?

I would really love to continue my line of work with traditional culture. I am searching for contacts to keep going with those topics and to photograph coffee harvests, small producers, family farms and this type of work.

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Which country has captivated you most?

They all have their beautiful side, and the magic comes from managing to see this side.

Is there a subject that you would like to work with that you haven’t yet?

would really like to work with mines, but I don’t have any links. I would like to see the situation and work with miners.


(Translated by Donna Davison – Email: provided by Angelika Berndt and authorised for publication.

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