By Rena Silverman
19 September 2014
(NPR) – They're silvery and stunning — and their beauty bears a message.
"Genesis" is a new exhibit of more than 200 black-and-white images from the noted Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado. He wants to show us what the world and its peoples look like now, how climate change has already had an impact — and what might be lost if Earth's climate continues changing.
His pictures will be on view at the International Center of Photography in New York City through Jan. 11. Goats and Soda is featuring four images that show parts of the world that our blog covers. We spoke with Salgado to learn more about his work.
What's your goal with this exhibit?
My issue was to see what we must preserve in this planet. Any photo I can take to convince the authorities, to convince the companies, to convince anyone, this is the minimum I can do. In this sense, I hope that these pictures, that this show, shows a kind of state of humanity of the planet, that we cannot destroy more than we already have.
What kinds of damage have you seen?
I was working in West Papua, Indonesia, with tribes that are living in the Stone Age. When I say that, I mean all of the instruments of their work, anything they have, are made from stone. Now [their] forest is getting destroyed [by man]. For me, that is the point: We are going too fast here. We must start to rebuild what we have destroyed.
We are doing this in Brazil. In part of the show, we are showing a rain forest that we planted in Brazil. We created an institution called Instituto Terra. We planted now more than 2 million trees of more than 300 different species, all local species. We must replant.
What about the health of the indigenous people you photograph? Have they suffered from climate change or from other changes?
I just worked now in March and April with a tribe in Brazil that suffered a lot from big diseases because gold diggers bring a lot of diseases that they [the indigenous groups] do not have.
Gold diggers use a lot of mercury. The fish eat the mercury. The people eat the fish, they become very sick. This is a big problem. We are seeing this happening in larger scale inside the Amazon. The National Indian Foundation fights to take the gold diggers out, but the region is so huge that it is difficult to take control.
We need much more participation. We have a conscience. And we must stop these things. [more]