Sebastião Salgado: Genesis & Climate Change

In June, I connected a colleague, Dan Thomas, who is the United Nations Senior Communications Officer for the Secretary-Generals Office on Climate Change, with the International Center of Photography (ICP).  ICP was working to mount the Sebastião Salgado exhibition: Genesis, and framing it as a discussion on climate change. Dan at the UN, was deeply involved with mounting the pending UN sponsored Climate Change Summit.

It was agreed that both organizations could benefit from having a video produced and in very short order, with just a couple of days of planning, I went to Paris to interview Salgado.  It was pretty exciting.  I worked pro-bono and was very pleased to have an opportunity to make some small contribute to raise the discussion about mankind’s most pressing issue.

Two short videos were produced.  One for the UN, embedded below and a second that ICP used during their exhibition which ends January 11, 2015.  For ICP Info, click for here.

Below are excerpts from Salgado’s book, which I clipped to help prepare for the interview in Paris.

From Salgado’s website: To read more from Salgado, click here.

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.
Genesis is about seeing and marveling, about understanding the necessity for the protection of all this; and finally it is about inspiring action for this preservation. The shooting of this series of photographic reportages began in 2004 and is due for completion in 2012.

Notes from the book Genesis; Sebastia Salgado; Taschen Press; (c) 2013 Sebastia Salgado

Dust Jacket: Major works: Workers (1993); Migrations (2000) – “Salgado reminds us, ‘We must preserve what exists’ the Genesis project along with Salgado’s Instituto Terra, are dedicated to showing he beauty of our planet, reversing the damage done o it and preserving it for the future.” … “Salgado likens Genesis to ‘my ove letter to the planet”

From the forward by Salgado: “We understood the absurdity of the idea that nature and humanity can somehow be separated.  We also recognized that the breakdown in our links to nature poses a genuine threat to humanity.  Through the rapid urbanization of the past 100 years, we have lost touch with the wilderness, animals and plants that represent the very essence of life on Earth.  We may know how to subjugate nature, but we easily forget that we depend on it for our very survival.”

Had considered doing a project focused on “how pollution of our air, water and land has become the price of development; how global warming is bring climate change with alarming consequences; how industrial farming, large-scale cattle ranching and logging are decimating rainforests.”    After seeing the re-birth of his own farm “we decided instead to explore the beauty of our planet.”

“Our mission was to seek out the land and seascapes, the animals and ancient communities that have escaped the long –and often destructive — arm of modern man.”

“We called the project Genesis because we imagined turning back the clock to the volcanic eruptions and the earthquakes that shaped the Earth; to the air, water and fire that gave birth to life; to the oldest animal species that still resist domestication; to remote tribes whose wae of life is largely unchanged; and to extant early forms of human organization. I wanted to examine how humanity and nature have long coexisted in what we now call ecological balance.”

“… a visual ode to the majesty and fragility of Earth.  But it is also a warning, I hope, of all that we risk losing”

“… I followed a romantic dream to find and share a pristine world that all too often is beyond our eyes and reach.  My goal was not to go where man had never before set foot, although untamed nature is usually to be found in pretty inaccessible places.  I simply wanted to show nature at its best wherever I found it.  And I found it in boundless spaces of immense biodiversity which, amazingly, cover almost half the Earth’s surface.”  … “Discovering this unspoiled world has been the most rewarding experience of my life.”

“… a homage to the grandeur of nature. ”

On the pictures of indigenous people:  “My aim was to portray these peoples as close as possible to their ancestral way of life. … I wanted to capture a vanishing world, a part of humanity that is on the verge of disappearing, yet in many ways still lives in harmony with nature.”


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