Conversation between Sebastião Salgado and Benedikt Taschen about Salgado’s photographs and his book ‘GENESIS‘.
Two men, one mission: Salgado talks with Benedikt Taschen about the photographic project that changed his life.
Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado Júnior is a Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist.
Salgado was born on February 8, 1944 in Aimorés, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. After a somewhat itinerant childhood, Salgado initially trained as an economist, earning a master’s degree in economics from the University of São Paulo in Brazil. He began work as an economist for the International Coffee Organization, often traveling to Africa on missions for the World Bank, when he first started seriously taking photographs. He chose to abandon a career as an economist and switched to photography in 1973, working initially on news assignments before veering more towards documentary-type work. Salgado initially worked with the photo agency Sygma and the Paris-based Gamma, but in 1979, he joined the international cooperative of photographers Magnum Photos. He left Magnum in 1994 and with his wife Lélia Wanick Salgado formed his own agency, Amazonas Images, in Paris, to represent his work. He is particularly noted for his social documentary photography of workers in less developed nations. They reside in Paris.
He has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2001.
Salgado works on long term, self-assigned projects many of which have been published as books: The Other Americas, Sahel, Workers, Migrations, and Genesis. The latter three are mammoth collections with hundreds of images each from all around the world. His most famous pictures are of a gold mine in Brazil called Serra Pelada.
Between 2004 and 2011, Salgado worked on “Genesis,” aiming at the presentation of the unblemished faces of nature and humanity. It consists of a series of photographs of landscapes and wildlife, as well as of human communities that continue to live in accordance with their ancestral traditions and cultures. This body of work is conceived as a potential path to humanity’s rediscovery of itself in nature.
In September and October 2007, Salgado displayed his photographs of coffee workers from India, Guatemala, Ethiopia and Brazil at the Brazilian Embassy in London. The aim of the project was to raise public awareness of the origins of the popular drink.
Together, Lélia and Sebastião, have worked since the 1990s on the restoration of a small part of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil. In 1998, they succeeded in turning this land into a nature reserve and created the Instituto Terra. The Instituto is dedicated to a mission of reforestation, conservation and environmental education.
Salgado and his work are the focus of the film The Salt of the Earth (2014), directed by Wim Wenders and Salgado’s son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. The film won a special award at Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the best Documentary Feature at the 2015 Academy Awards.
About the book ‘GENESIS’:
GENESIS is Sebastião Salgado’s love letter to the planet. It is the result of an epic eight-year expedition to rediscover the mountains, deserts, and oceans, the animals and peoples that have so far escaped the imprint of modern society—the land and life of a still pristine planet. The GENESIS project, along with the Salgados’ Instituto Terra, is dedicated to showing the beauty of our planet, reversing the damage done to it, and preserving it for the future.
On over 30 trips—by foot, light aircraft, boats, canoes, and even balloons, through extreme temperatures and in sometimes dangerous conditions—Salgado has created a collection of images showing us nature, animals, and indigenous peoples in such intense beauty it takes our breath away. The reach is truly global. Through Salgado’s lens, one discovers the animal species and volcanoes of the Galápagos; the penguins, sea lions, cormorants, and whales of the South Atlantic; Brazilian alligators and jaguars; and African lions, leopards, and elephants. We travel over icebergs in the Antarctic, the volcanoes of Central Africa, the ravines of the Grand Canyon, and the glaciers of Alaska. We encounter the Stone Age Korowai people of West Papua, nomadic Dinka cattle farmers in Sudan, Nenets and their reindeer herds in the Arctic Circle, as well as the Mentawai jungle communities on islands west of Sumatra.
In characteristic monochrome, Salgado’s painterly notes are perfectly tuned to these sublime scenes, capturing sweeping aerial panoramas as much as the most intricate details and textures, from a reptilian skin to the fur coat of the Nenet people of northern Siberia. The exquisitely reproduced images are arranged not by theme but rather conceived as a journey around the globe, immersing them in Salgado’s vision of the Earth’s mesmerizing scale, order, and beauty.
This two-volume SUMO-size edition is designed and edited by Lélia Wanick Salgado and numbered and signed by Sebastião Salgado. Quarter-leather bound, it is presented with a bookstand in cherry wood veneer designed by Tadao Ando and a clothbound caption book explaining each stunning shot.
Collector’s Edition of 2,500 copies (No. 501–3,000), numbered and signed by Sebastião Salgado
Also available in five Art Editions, each limited to 100 copies
More of the book on Taschen: https://www.taschen.com/02613yt