SALT OF THE EARTH


“We humans are terrible animals,” photographer Sebastião Salgado says in this alternately nightmarish and magical documentary about his life’s work
From widespread devastation in the Ethiopian famine to firemen working in the fiery oil fields of Kuwait to the savagery of the Rwandan genocide, Salgado’s camera has been witness to some of our species’ lowest, most horrific moments. Many of the images — and Salgado’s accounts of taking them — are as soul-shattering as they are breathtaking.

It was a black-and-white image of diggers toiling in a muddy gold mine that first drew filmmaker Wim Wenders to the work of Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. There was something about these dirt-caked prospectors stretching as far as the eye could see that was unbearably moving

Several series came before, starting with a photographic essay on South America that enabled Sebastiao to get close to his native Brazil without crossing the border, until a return from exile in 1980. He followed that up with “The Sahel, the End of the Road,” his first major exploration of communities suffering from deprivation, and also the first time he worked in conjunction with Doctors Without Borders. After that came “Workers” and then “Exodus,” a project that unavoidably left him psychologically scarred by the horrific misery he witnessed and recorded. Designed as a record of the displacement of populations through famine, war and economic deprivation, the series coincided with the civil war in Rwanda and unimaginable horrors.

After “Exodus,” Sebastiao no longer believed in mankind’s salvation. Returning to Brazil with a desperate need to assuage his bitterness, he was faced with the desiccated remnants of his family’s formerly verdant farm, parched from drought. With Leila, he began an experimental program of replanting; their technique proved so successful that the project, called “Instituto Terra,” has now reforested parts of Brazil’s Mata Atlantica and is a model for similar efforts worldwide. The experience reinvigorated the photographer for his most recent project “Genesis,” a collaboration with son Juliano that encompasses parts of the globe retaining their primeval aspect, from Wrangel Island in Siberia to the highlands of Papua New Guinea.




Salgado’s masterpiece: GENESIS — Earth eternal >>>