I just came across an article in the UK Times online by Adam Sage about his latest exhibition titled In Principio (In the Beginning), at Gallery 32 in Green Street, London. The show centers on an ironic subject for Salgado: the coffee industry. I say ironic because Salgado’s father “had a coffee shelling plant on the farm he bought in the Rio Doce valley in south east Brazil in 1948.”
Though he sounds a bit defensive, I appreciated this honest quote in the article from Salgado:
“I have no claim to be a social photographer. People stuck that label on me, but I do a lot of commercial work like everyone else. I am not a political militant, I’m a photographer and that’s all. I am from a poor country and I have spent a lot of time working in poor countries. I don’t photograph them to make the rich feel guilty. I photograph them because it’s my life, it’s what I like doing.”
Salgado doesn’t quite qualify as a photographer who’s been “dodged & burned” from art history, but all of us as photographers, artists, humans can learn from the reality and truth that is captured in his imagery.
His work fascinates me because it’s mostly documentary (freezing real time in photo) but there’s such a surreal quality to it because the subject matter is often disturbing/shocking/unfathomable to our first-world minds and the way he manipulates light to work with B&W film and/or digital capture is almost dream like.
Photo by Jim Watson