Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

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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Images from Terry Gilliam's "Brazil"

It’s about 6:30 in the morning and I’m sitting here, stumped and looking at a blank screen.  Nothing to say so I flip on the television.  Don’t really want to watch the news.  Not ready for that just yet.

So I flip around the dial and up comes the opening from the movie Brazil with the music from the old song of the same name blaring, but in a gentle way.  It’s a sort of  1984 storyline that is set in a futuristic nightmare world that vaguely  resembles 1950’s England, only with some slight twists and bends.   I know I can’t watch it and get anything done but keep it on because I know that at any moment I can look up at it and see incredibly interesting imagery.

It’s a Terry Gilliam film after all.

Terry Gilliam was the American member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the least visible member but the one responsible for much of their visual look including their trademark opening credits and most of their animations.  In his post-Python life he has become one of the most original film-makers in the world, creating films that are wildly original and always richly visual.  Films like Time Bandits, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Jabberwocky, Twelve Monkeys, The Fisher King and  most recently, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.  All films that march to their own drum and have had degrees of success but hardly movies that have had widespread appeal for the general movie-going public.

I can imagine when film critics in the future, if there are such things then, will look back on Gilliam’s body of work and will recognize him for the creative genius he is for creating richly detailed alternate visions of this world in his films,  with stories that are consistently strong and beautifully conceived, that often deal with the individual trying to make his way through a world in which he is usually out of place in some way.  A theme I think we can all identify with in our own way.   I think that is how his work will be remembered, as highly individualistic visual feasts. 

Each film is definitely recognizable as his work.

So, as I struggle tofinish this post and get back to my own work, Brazil still rolls across the TV screen in my studio and I know I won’t get much done until it’s over.  Thanks, Terry…

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