Archive for “Genesis”

“Genesis” By Sebastiao Salgado Has Arrived

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 2, 2013 by johnbuckley100

It’s getting harder and harder to find the ends of the Earth…

Fortunately, a near-septuagenarian Brazilian humanist has returned from the ends of the Earth with hundreds of SD cards full of glorious shards of the light that falls upon it…

We have been awaiting the arrival of Genesis by Sebastiao Salgado ever since we received a promotional postcard, around 2008, from his American gallerist, Peter Fetterman, depicting a Dinka cattle herd.  We were familiar with Salgado — in fact we owned An Uncertain Grace, in which we first saw those pictures of the Brazilian gold miners at work in their pit, a photojournalist’s image that combined a little bit of Dante with Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom.  We knew he was a great photographer, but we didn’t yet grasp his conceptual breadth, which is staggering, or the depth of his humanity, which is an inspiration.  Somehow, a picture of an African cattle herder opened a door onto the project that Salgado was calling Genesis, which is nothing less than, in Salgado’s words, “a visual ode to the majesty and fragility of the planet.”

From that first glimpse of this project, we were hooked.  And something in our life had changed.

In part through the images available on Peter Fetterman’s walls and website, in part through the updates that, like a 19th Century chronicle available from magazines and newspapers, kept a global audience apprised of the progress Salgado was making  along the way  — you can practically see the globe with the dotted line marking where he was in any given month — we came to view, oh, 50 or so of the images he was amassing from his travels north and south.

By New Years Day 2013, we’d seen, we’re guessing,  maybe six dozen of the photographs that Salgado captured over the course of his seven-year journey around the globe, preserving in digital black and white those parts, and people, least despoiled by what Herman Melville called “snivelization.”  And then, a few months back,through Peter’s generosity, we were able to meet Salgado when he came to Washington to show more of what would be included in the massive museum installations that launched just last month in London, and expand in a week or so to Toronto.  After that slide show, we’d seen another, perhaps, 100 of the images, bringing the total of what we’d seen to somewhere near 200.  Many of these images were instantly iconic, such as the photograph of Alaska’s Brooks Range, captured on the cover the book depicted above.  Beyond individual images, the shear breadth of what he had accomplished was massive and staggering.  And even then we had no idea, even then there were vast aspects of Genesis that we’d yet to see.

Even having had years to prepare for Genesis in its entirety, we still, tonight, were stunned to see the work in its entirety, more than 500 pages of images from Kamchatka to Antarctica, Angel Falls to Bryce Canyon, from those Dinkas in Africa to the sheathed-penis tribesman of West Papua’s Jayawijaya mountain range.  Salgado’s “hymn to the planet,” captured fully in this stunningly gorgeous Taschen book, reveals him to be a one-man National Geographic Society, hacking his way for 55 days across the wilds of Ethiopia, spending time with the reindeer-herding Nenets of Siberia, communing with whales off the Valdes Peninsula, being dropped off to fend for himself in ANWR, so as to catch the migration of the caribou.  To say the man went everywhere to joyously capture that half of the planet that he attests is still wild understates things.

Salgado is nearly 70, and yet over the course of just the past decade, he’s withstood hardship for months at a time in order to produce this work. Some have criticized the divine grandiosity in his naming of the project, but while he’s not God, the prodigiousness of his energy that enabled him to capture in such gorgeous images the world that he, perhaps uniquely, has seen in this entirety has given him a certain superhuman aura.

In the days, months, and years ahead, you will hear much about Salgado’s Genesis.  The publication of the book is an epochal moment both in terms of photography and, we’d venture, conservation.  You would do well to buy it, reasonably priced right now on a value basis, to see what the most accomplished photographer of our age has brought back, back from the ends of the earth.  Not explicitly to chronicle things before they disappear, but with optimism, and joy in what’s still there.

Wonderfully Put: Sebastiao Salgado’s “Gods Eye View Of The Planet”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 13, 2013 by johnbuckley100

The Telegraph weighs in with a wonderful interview with Salgado, continuing his triumphant opening week of the “Genesis” exhibit in London.

At The Museum Launch Of “Genesis,” The BBC Interviews Sebastiao Salgado

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 12, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Sebastiao Salgado’s epic show “Genesis” launched this week in London, kicking off what will undoubtedly be the most important collection of images brought to the world this year.  Salgado is getting the attention, and the critical acclaim, he deserves.  Happily, there is an interview with him from the BBC that not only allows you to listen to him tell how he got some of the shots, but gives you a sense of the intimacy of the show that kicked off at the Natural History Museum in London earlier this week.

For more information on the show, here is a separate BBC blog post, with images.

Finally, for an early preview of what to expect from “Genesis,” we refer you back to this piece we posted in January, after meeting Salgado at the Brazilian Embassy in D.C.


On Meeting Sebastiao Salgado

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 12, 2013 by johnbuckley100


Only a novelist — and a South American novelist at that — could know what to make of how, precisely, it came to be that Sebastiao Salgado was able to break free from the life of a photojournalist to commence his exploration, in the 1980s, of Workers, his epic documentation of laborers around the world.

It all began in Washington, where he has been for the past two days, presenting his forthcoming Genesis — last night at NatGeo, and tonight at the Brazilian Embassy.  Providence placed him, 32 years ago, just outside the Washington Hilton  at the very moment Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, and it was Salgado who captured the images that soon were on the front pages of newspapers worldwide.  Capturing the near killing of the president who led America’s capitalist resurgence left Salgado — who has become the most renowned photographer of our age — in a financial position to document capitalism’s effects on the workers of the world, the army of miners entering the pits, the farmers struggling to fuel the caffeinated West.  Of all the photographers in Washington that day, it was the former economist from Brazil who was able to, well, capitalize on the moment, in service of one of the most ambitious artistic projects of the epoch. What would Garcia Marquez do with those facts, such magical realism?

And then came Migrations, which sought to document how the planet was trod by those pulled to opportunity, or pushed from disaster, or maybe it’s the other way around; the magnetism of cities depopulating the countryside, refugees from war-torn Africa, from famine, from genocide.  And as a one-time exile from Brazil, he had a special eye for those who had to leave their homelands because they were ripped apart.

And now he is back, after an eight-year exploration of that portion of the planet that has not been despoiled by man, and the photos, of course, are nothing less than magnificent.  If Salgado could render starvation in the Sahel in a photograph that somehow, despite it all, contains the beauty that comes from human dignity, imagine what he can do capturing the last pristine places on Earth.

You’ll know soon enough; Genesis will be the most important photographic event of the year, as it launches in April with multiple museum shows on different continents, as two books are published by Taschen, as Salgado’s son and Wim Wenders release a documentary on the making of this, his greatest work.  Get ready.

On the eve of World War II, Cartier-Bresson complained of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, “The world is falling to pieces and Adams and Weston are taking pictures of rocks.”  Genesis transforms Salgado into a landscape photographer, every bit as much as he was a humanist documentarian, and before that, a photojournalist.  But now as the world is literally falling to pieces — even the rocks are falling to pieces, now that so much of the world is being drilled and mined, with habitat shrinking faster than the glaciers — Salgado has spent eight years capturing it, the glaciers and mountains, the tribes and the caribou.  And in so doing he has produced the most breathtaking hymn to the planet.

From capturing the dignity of people who refuse to be degraded by their conditions, he’s spent his seventh decade capturing the dignity of the planet that still has beauty preserved, in pockets here and there.  Only someone with the stamina of Salgado, and an ability to charter the planes and hire the pack animals, can get to the ends of the Earth, capturing them before they’re gone.

What we learned tonight in meeting him was a) his eyes twinkle, b) he is as warm and patient as only a humanist photographer can be, c) he shrugs off the physical discomfort he had to have gone through, all alone in Antarctica or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or with the the native peoples in tundra and rainforest, and d) most surprisingly, he’s actually optimistic about the planet.  He described the genesis of Genesis as coming out of the bleakness of photographing the Balkans for Migrations, when he was depressed about the condition of the planet.

But after he and Lelia Wanick — his wife and collaborator who run the Amazonas photo agency, which syndicates his work — began their project to reforest the section of Brazil in which he was raised, ultimately planting two million trees, he began to be hopeful once again.  And he focused on the approximately 50 percent of the planet — from Antarctica to the Arctic, from the deserts to the jungles — that has not been paved over.  And from that he began what may be his final extended project.

Each individual photograph is gorgeous, but the power of the collection is unlike any photographic project you will have ever seen.  If the word “stunning” has meaning, this is when to use it.  The 140 images he showed tonight — a portion of the 500 we will get to see in April — is an aria to the beauty of the planet still remaining.

Sebastiao Salgado is a great photographer because he can frame and illuminate images with an aesthetic sensibility unlike anyone today.

He is a great artist because of his conceptual ambition — not for him the limitation of photographing a gang in New York City, or people at a zoo, or the denizens of the street.  Salgado is intent on capturing the workers of the world.  All of them.  And all the migrations of people across continents and seas.  And now Genesis, for God’s sake.

He is a great man because of his humanism, which is not rare among photographers, though as with his work, Salgado is in a league of his own.

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