Posts Tagged ‘Sebastiao Salgado’

“We are animals, born from the land with the other species. Since we’ve been living in cities, we’ve become more and more stupid, not smarter. What made us survive all these hundreds of thousands of years is our spirituality; the link to our land.”

Sebastiao Salgado


I featured the photos of the Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado here several years back. Originally an economist, Salgado took up photography in his thirties and embarked on an epic journey to document the great beauty and darkness the of this world, photographing grand vistas and wildlife along with refugees fleeing genocide and workers in the grimmest of conditions. He does so in a wondrous fashion that has a way of connecting us in the present day to all the ages that came before.

This feeling of connection definitely hits me every time I come across his photos of the gold miners in Brazil, taken in 1986 and included in his 2005 book, Workers: An Archaeology of the Industrial Age. I love this title. The work has that archaeological feel, like artifacts that will stand as lasting images of our time here on Earth.

These images feel absolutely biblical to me. It takes away any doubt I may have previously held about how man created the ancient wonders that still stand today. The workers shown may be contemporary miners but they could just as easily be slaves in the age of the Egyptian pharaohs. Or lost souls trapped in one of the circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno.

If you get a chance please take a look at some of Salgado’s work. It is amazing imagery and truly human in every sense of the word.

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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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