Sebastião Salgado, Genesis
Sebastião Salgado’s photography is stunning and spellbinding, and his latest book, Genesis, is a masterpiece: A large-format collection of over 500 pages of spectacular black-and-white images shot by Salgado over a period of 8 years on 32 expeditions into some of the world’s most primitive and beautiful places. Sebastião Salgado is to be admired for his work as a humanitarian photographer of great sensitivity as well as for his mastery of the photographic medium. Salgado has described this evocative book as his “love letter to the planet.” I believe that is a very apt description. Looking at these amazing images certainly creates a great sense of pleasure and deep respect for our planet.
Sebastiao Salgado, Genesis, 520 pages. Published by Taschen, 2013. Designed and edited by Lélia Wanick Salgado.
Salgado, born in Brazil and now living in Paris, ranks as one of the most significant living photographers today. Genesis, which I discovered recently at the Library, is his latest project to be published. The book is huge, a fantastic volume published by Taschen. In addition to the 500 pages of images, an insert includes extensive commentary on the subject and place of each photography.
(At Taschen here. At Amazon here.)
This is from Salgado’s website:
Genesis is a long-term photographic project, in line with the main bodies of work carried out previously by Sebastião Salgado; for example, the series of reportages presented in Workers or the series on the theme of the population movements around the world, that appeared in Migrations. This new project is about our planet earth, nature and its beauty, and what remains of it today despite the manifold destruction caused by human activity. Genesis is an attempt to portray the beauty and the majesty of regions that are still in a pristine condition, areas where landscapes and wildlife are still unspoiled, places where human communities continue to live according to their ancient culture and traditions.
And this from Taschen, the publisher of Genesis:
What does one discover in Genesis? The animal species and volcanoes of the Galápagos; penguins, sea lions, cormorants, and whales of the Antarctic and South Atlantic; Brazilian alligators and jaguars; African lions, leopards, and elephants; the isolated Zo’é tribe deep in the Amazon jungle; the Stone Age Korowai people of West Papua; nomadic Dinka cattle farmers in Sudan; Nenet nomads and their reindeer herds in the Arctic Circle; Mentawai jungle communities on islands west of Sumatra; the icebergs of the Antarctic; the volcanoes of Central Africa and the Kamchatka Peninsula; Saharan deserts; the Negro and Juruá rivers in the Amazon; the ravines of the Grand Canyon; the glaciers of Alaska… and beyond. Having dedicated so much time, energy, and passion to the making of this work, Salgado likens Genesis to “my love letter to the planet.”
Recommended: New York Times, April 20, 2013, Interview by Dominique Browning. And Slide show. (Login may be required.) And a fascinating TED Talk by Salgado.
Salgado’s photography represents styles very consistent with what I have been interested in: Deep and richly textured black-and-white, with sharp contrasts and powerful details, and deep focus (depth-of-field). (Salgado was still shooting with film when he began the expeditions depicted in Genesis; he changed to digital for the later images.) I’ve read reviews of Genesis that take issue with a few points about layout, specifically: (1) the fact that there are many full double-page images that span the binding; and (2) the inclusion of many spreads with a large number of single images on the page. But I think these are quibbles; it doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the work at all. One can spend, literally, days studying these images, both the powerfully moving content and Salgado’s exquisite photographic technique. A wealth of information about the images and Salgado’s expeditions is included in an insert booklet.