Arts & Entertainment

Photographer Salgado reveals Amazon essence in unprecedented Brazil art show

By Nayara Batschke

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Feb 14 (EFE).- After a tour through cities such as Paris, London and Rome, photographer Sebastiao Salgado is now in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with “Amazonia,” an exposition that seeks to raise environmental awareness via his intimate photo-portraits of the different peoples who inhabit the world’s largest tropical forest.

More than 200 images, seven films and a soundtrack created by composer Jean-Michel Jarre are the guiding thread whereby those attending the exposition may immerse themselves in the landscapes, species and indigenous peoples depicted in the Brazilian photographer’s images, which he made over almost a decade.

“The main thing I learned in Amazonia is that I’m nature, I’m biodiversity, I learned that with the indigenous people. The indigenous people are completely integrated into the environment and they’re part of the ecosystem,” the 78-year-old Salgado, who lives in Paris and is one of the most active voices defending preserving the environment, told EFE.

Divided into six thematic axes and with a large assortment of explanatory texts, the exposition aims to bring the debates on preservation of the Amazon – and the original peoples living there – closer to the viewers, as well as to extol the places that support the country’s greatest concentration of “wealth and culture.”

The photos, many of them never before displayed, provide an intimate portrait of the daily lives within 12 indigenous communities, which mix with exuberant shots of the rainforest, rivers, mountains and unique natural phenomena.

“These photographs represent the living Amazon, the bioma, the indigenous communities,” and so “in this exposition we’re not presenting the dead, destroyed Amazon of the rural properties or urban areas,” said the photographer, who has already visited more than 100 countries with his various projects.

The exposition opens its doors in the Sesc Pompeia in Sao Paulo on Monday and will run until July 10, when Salgado is scheduled to send it on tour through several Brazilian cities.

The inauguration of the exhibit coincides with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s signing on Monday of an executive order designed to stimulate informal mining in the country, especially in the region known as the legal Amazon.

Salgado said that any exploitative mining activities is a “murderous proposition,” adding that his exposition could act as an engine to strengthen “a base of support for protection of the Amazon ecosystem.”

“Mineral exploitation brings the destruction of the jungle, contamination of the rivers, the violation of indigenous territories and the transmission of diseases into Amazonia. So, it’s a murderous proposition,” he said.

He also said that the photo exhibit comes at a time when the Brazilian government is perpetrating “great destabilization of the indigenous peoples’ way of life,” something that has fostered a “Brazilian desperation regarding the Amazon.”

“Our great hope is that people who come out of this exposition will not be the same as those who entered,” he said.

In that regard, Lelia Wanick Salgado, the photographer’s wife and the person in charge of editing and staging the exposition, said that the idea is specifically to provide visitors with an immersive experience in the heart of the world’s largest tropical jungle via multiple sensory experiences.

“When we enter the exposition, we feel the immersion into the photos and the sounds of the jungle. All the lighting comes from the photos and everything that’s around (us) is pure half-light,” she emphasized.

Salgado, his wife and his photo team traveled for seven years throughout Amazonia taking pictures, creating films and recording the sounds of the region.

Contained within the exhibit is almost a decade of the photographer’s work, including almost 50 reports he prepared about the region.

“The Amazon was my home. The Amazon is my heart and I hope that in this exposition one will understand the importance of these images,” he said.

EFE nbo/ag/icn/bp

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