Sebastião Salgado is an internationally renowned Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist. He has travelled in over 120 countries and his work has featured in numerous press publications, books and exhibitions.
The current show at the Science Museum explores the rich diversity of the Amazon through Salgado’s photography. Famous for documenting the social and environmental issues facing the planet, his images investigate the dialogue between nature and humanity. With over 200 black and white pictures captured over seven years of criss-crossing the region, visitors get to discover one of the most unique environments on the planet through his expert eyes and connect with the places and peoples most at risk of climate change.
The exhibition includes an immersive soundtrack by Jean-Michel Jarre that brings the sounds of the rainforest indoors, as well as video interviews with indigenous leaders fighting to protect their home.
The different sections of the show take us through a wide array of topics photographed from unusual points of view: lush rainforests seen from river boats, waterfalls shot from far above, stormy skies and portraits of the diverse indigenous communities captured with the intensity that only Salgado can convey.
Before entering the exhibition, a film introduces visitors to the Amazon’s vital role in our global climate, the risk that it is approaching an irreversible tipping point and what can be done to prevent reaching that point.
The curator of the show, Lélia Wanick Salgado has artistically arranged many of the photographs hanging from the ceiling in such a way that one feels immersed in the rainforest. The arrangement is perfect to visualize “flying rivers”, a natural phenomenon whereby trees transport large quantities of water vapour into the atmosphere, thus contributing to the autonomy of the surrounding ecosystem.
Amongst this forest of suspended photographs are three structures evoking the homes of ten indigenous groups who live in and protect the Brazilian Amazon. In this section, Salgado presents intimate portraits and vivid images of the communities going about their daily lives, interspersed with video interviews with the native leaders working to protect their ancestral lands.
the tripoint of Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil; 5% of its mountain plateau lies in Brazil, 10% in Guyana and 85% in Venezuela.
In the final section of the exhibition visitors discover how the Salgados are working to protect the other Brazilian rainforest, the Mata Atlantica (Atlantic Forest) through the work of Instituto Terra, which they founded in 1998 on degraded land that they have slowly regrown. The Instituto now provides a home for endangered species, raises millions of tree seedlings in its nursery every year and trains young ecologists to help protect the region’s biodiversity for generations to come.
Amazônia is supported by Zurich Insurance Company Ltd (Principal Sponsor) and Natura &Co (Major Sponsor).
Words: Julia Pasarón
Opening picture: Yanomami shaman before the ascend to the Pico de Neblina, Amazon. Brazil, 2014. ©Sebastião Salgado/nbpictures