Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sebastiao Salgado: Concerned Photography

Sebastiao Salgado's work embodies, perhaps more than that of any other contemporary artist, a social conscience. Salgado is one of the truly great living photographers -- not just because he takes aesthetically pleasing pictures but because he has chosen to document humanity as a mobile, stratified, working, conflicting, suffering, regenerative entity with a talent for both self-destruction and survival. The names of his projects indicate the nature of his work: Man in Distress, Other Americas, An Uncertain Grace, Workers, Migrations. "What I want in my pictures is not that they'll look like art objects," he says. "They are journalist pictures. All my pictures. No exceptions."

They are, however, art objects. Sombre, insightful, desolate, rooted poetry in black and white. Such as this picture of a Rwandan refugee camp in Tanzania.

Or this one from Bosnia.

In the introduction to Migrations, he wrote, "More than ever, I feel that the human race is one. There are differences of colour, language, culture and opportunities, but people's feelings and reactions are alike. People flee wars to escape death, they migrate to improve their fortunes, they build new lives in foreign lands, they adapt to extreme hardship..." Salgado's camera has documented deprivation, displacement and labour like no other. He does not revel in the incisive flashes of wit of a Cartier-Bresson -- instead, he stresses thematic unity and the humanitarian angle. He can shock and disturb (see, for example, his photographs of famine in the Sahel), but he is never didactic or sentimental.

Here are some more of his pictures, from Brazil, China, Sudan, Ecuador, India and elsewhere.

Online exhibitions of Sebastiao Salgado's photographs may be found at:


DD said...

thanks for the enlightenment.

i could never imagine that photography can be SO powerful. every word that he feels about the human race comes alive in his pictures.

the local train picture is incredible.

satchisgod said...

Very nice post. Thanks for the links too.

Kele Panchu said...

Nice post! It is good to see that this guy is not just another westerner trying to exploit the poverty and misery of the third world. He believes in what he's doing and he's very honest about it.

Anonymous said...

Keep them coming.Also let us know about any other blogs that has info about photographers.

expiring_frog said...

@kele panchu: "Westerner" is a bit of a misnomer -- the "West" includes, say S. America, where this guy is from, which has huge 3W areas. I don't think he's as much of an outsider as you make him out to be.

@anon: Try googling. I don't know of any other blogs that deal with photographers, although there are plenty of photoblogs, as well as non-blog photographer sites (e.g. MoP). I have a few links in previous posts.

expiring_frog said...

@anon: Update: Mike Johnston has some posts on photographers.

Teleute said...

you're tagged. Write eight things that you want in your ideal man/ woman (whichever way your preferences lie), and then tag another eight people into doing the same. please do tag?