Friday, May 3, 2013

Salgado's Genesis

A bit more about the exhibit I saw at the Royal Ontario Museum last night, called "Genesis", a collection of photographs by Sebastiao Salgado.

The evening started with about forty minutes of listening to Mr. Salgado.  He is a very engaging speaker, with an interesting accent, having been born in Brazil and then moving to Paris at the age of 20.  He mostly spoke about his life, where he grew up, how he came to be doing this work.  He started out as an economist, believe it or not, before picking up a camera for the first time and getting hooked.

Afterwards, we watched a slide show of about 140 photos from some of his previous exhibits.  They were all pretty amazing but some were difficult to see.  For example, his "Migrations" photos included pictures of some of the atrocities which took place in the Rwanda refugee camps - the pictures of starving children were especially heartbreaking.

The focus of this new project was to photograph areas of the world that have not changed in hundreds and thousands of years, that are still as pristine and untouched as they would have been when the Earth was young.  Places like Monument Valley, the Canadian North, parts of the Arctic Circle, the Galapagos Islands, Papua New Guinea.  Admittedly, I only saw half the exhibit last night. It was much too crowded, with four or five people standing in front of each photo.  I'm planning to visit again - hopefully several times - before the exhibit leaves at the end of the summer to get a better look and no doubt, it will be a little less crowded then.

Many of the photos I did see were of tribes who are living the same lifestyle as generations of their ancestors did, which is hard to believe in this day and age that they haven't been overrun by "progress".
There were also scenic views of mountain ranges, rivers, deserts, snow covered expanses and this iceberg:

The above photo was one of my favourites, I couldn't take my eyes off it.  You can get a better look at it here.  The structure on the right looks so much like a castle to me, my mind had trouble computing the fact that it was carved out of ice and not stone.

There were several interesting animal shots, which Mr. Salgado advised were somewhat unusual for him to take, as he had spent most of the past 50 years photographing only humans.  The foot of the marine iguana I showed you yesterday was just one of the creatures he had captured on film (my favourite was the giant tortoise), which is why I was surprised they used that shot for the outside banner on the museum, as it doesn't really represent the focus of the exhibit to me.  But then again, that's just my opinion and it doesn't really matter, it's just an observation.  The subject matter is fascinating, the black and white photos are stunning.  If you find yourself in Toronto, Rio, Lausanne, Paris or Sao Paolo anytime in the next six months when this exhibit is being presented, you should really try to see it.

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