Archive for February 11th, 2014

Sebastiao Salgado  Genesis Book CoverI don’t know where to start with the work of Brazilian photographer  Sebastiao Salgado.  He is widely celebrated for the importance of his work but I was unaware of him until I stumbled across this image from the cover of his most recent and most ambitious book, Genesis.  The image of a mountain river valley with a light filled flash of storm filling its upper end  fit so perfectly with the title, the stark black and white giving the whole scene a most biblical feel, as though you were witnessing the primal birth of man.  The image just filled me with awe and I couldn’t get it out of my head.

I began to look a bit more into the work of Salgado, born in 1944.  It is astonishing in many ways.  He has over the years documented some of the great brutalities of our time, photographing the plight of refugees, famine victims, migrant communities and manual laborers throughout the world.  It is work that is not easy to look on at times.  In fact, after one of his books, Exodus, which was about those fleeing genocide, Salgado’s faith was shattered by the horrors which he had witnessed.

Goldmine, Serra Pelada, Brazil 1986-- Sebastiao Salgado

Goldmine, Serra Pelada, Brazil 1986– Sebastiao Salgado

It was this despair that drove him the Genesis project, an eight year odyssey that took him to the furthest corners of the world.  His goal is to have us reconnect with the power and intelligence of the natural world, uniting a world that is divided by crises of greed and need.

Though much of his work in Genesis, where he is seeking to show the magnificence of the natural Earth, is downright beautiful, I struggle to call much of his work that same word– beautiful.  It is more than that.  It is powerful and daunting, not merely pretty pictures.  It pushes at you, tests your willingness to witness the rawness of ourselves.  It raises so many questions about who we are and what we are doing in this world.

Awe inspiring…

There is so much more that can be said about Mr. Salgado’s life work.  I urge you to do some research on your own and suggest you do a Google Images search of his work to get a real sense of the scope of his work.  You can do that by clicking here.


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