Sebastião Salgado: Depicting and Saving Earth’s Beauty
Whether its cinema, photography, TV or even memes, we are surrounded and influenced by art every day. However, because art is so lucrative, we are sometimes unaware of its influence, and this is what Photographer and reporter Sebastião Salgado encapsulates within his work.
For his artwork, Salgado has travelled to over 100 countries with the aim of depicting the people as well as problems in our world. His works as Sahel: l’homme en détresse (1986), Workers (1993) or Migrations (2000) documents and raises consciousness for states of emergency groups of humankind had to endure, while works as Terra (1997), Africa (2007) or Genesis (2013) illustrate the rich variety of nature’s beauty and human (indigenous) communities, with again raising consciousness for that beautiful variety.
Underlining Salgado’s influence and impact is the documentary 'The Salt of Earth' which reflects upon Salgado’s life and career. The film was selected for numerous major film festivals and received several awards, such as the Special Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival or the César Award for Best Documentary Film in 2015. Additionally, at the 87th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for the Academy Award for the Best Documentary.
Salgado’s current photographic project is concerned about the Brazilian Amazon forest and its inhabitants as well as the indigenous communities. It aims to raise awareness for problems the area faces due to threats as illegal logging, gold mining, dam building and steadily increasingly climate change.
But Salgado’s dedication to raising awareness for Earth’s beauty and the factors endangering it goes beyond his artistic work. In April 1999 Salgado founded the Instituto Terra together with his wife Lélia Wanick Salgado, which is a non-profit organisation dedicated to reforestation, the sustainable development of the Valley of the River Doce and overall environmental education. In the meantime, 17,000 acres of deforested and eroded land have undergone a remarkable positive change thanks to the Instituto Terra. Having been declared a Private Natural Heritage Reserve, the organisation has grown and has numerous ongoing projects and fields of dedication. The three core areas are the support of environmental education, ecosystem restoration, as well as the production of seedlings. Thereby, their aims and aspirations come to fruition, with having planted over two million trees of more than 300 different species in their concerned area in south-eastern Brazil.
These example of Salgado’s continuous engagement and dedication proves that the will to change something leads to the path of actually changing something. The Valley of the River Doce and the two million planted trees are unmistakable evidence. So be aware of the beauty surrounding us. But also be mindful of the threats endangering it. So go out and change something – even if it is only planting some seeds.