The salt of our souls
„I have lost faith in us.“ A statement made by the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. It is the interim conclusion of his now 71 year long life, determined by the search for the origin of love – face-to-face with terror – and marked by deep disappointment regarding human nature. By „us“ he means our species, the human being as such. Salgado has documented and stylized the suffering of civilisation like no other. His work lives from immediacy – in order to get his images, Salgado exposed himself to the dangers of crisis areas for months. After witnessing and documenting the horrors of the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsis in 1994, Salgado suffered a breakdown. Being confronted with death and brutality, his body decided it had had enough and started fighting back. Ten years later Salgado resumed his travels – in small propeller-driven aircrafts, on foot, by boat, in a folding kayak and a captive balloon he set out to places not yet known to civilization. For eight years he worked on his project „Genesis“, photographing archaic volcanic landscapes, arctic ice masses, meandering river canyons, mountain chains enveloped in mist, primordial rainforests and endless sand dunes and documenting the stunning beauty and rich diversity of unspoiled natural landscapes, as well as indigene peoples in opulent black-and-white photographs. This piece of work holds 250 photographs; the gigantic exhibition officially opens this Friday at the C/O Berlin and will be displayed until August 16th, 2015. On Saturday, the C/O is also hosting a special event at the Delphi Filmpalast: There will be a screening of the impressive documentary „The Salt of the Earth“, in which Wim Wenders and Salgado’s son Juliano give insight on the photographer’s creative work. Afterwards, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, will be talking to Sebastião Salgado about the relationship between mankind and nature. The word genesis is Greek and means as much as beginning or birth of something new. It describes the creation of the world in a biblical sense. Perhaps Salgado is trying to bring us back to the perfection and purity of beginnings from which we have led ourselves astray and make an appeal to preserve part of the planet in all its original and fascinating diversity. Perhaps his images of harmoniously flowing rivers and peaceful beings have helped him create his own version of a perfect world – stylized, black-and-white and immaculate. He does at least reduce man to a background actor, not being worth more or less than any other creature on the planet. That thought pleases us: humbleness and the natural belief of our place in a divine structure lie in it. Salgado has not lost faith. On the contrary, his work reveals tireless drive and incurable love.