Sebastiao Salgado’s has turned his lens on some of the world’s great tragedies: war, famine, enforced Migrations of peoples, a desperate litany of disasters.
His images however offer according to art critic John Berger the ‘Spectre of Hope’. Hope, Berger explains, is very different from an emotion like optimism for it can only exist at the moment of utmost despair, a chink of light in a hellish darkness.
It almost perfectly captures the essence of Salgado’s pictures. They often show terrible things but the fact that these things are witnessed makes us acknowledge that this misery is happening out there and cannot be ignored.
It’s interesting to note that his latest book ‘Genesis’ which was the subject of an exhibition I saw recently at the International Center of Photography, often captures people less environments, remote mountain ranges and animals but gives them the same majesty as any of his famed shots of gold mine workers in Brazil.