Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Salt Of The Earth vs. Sebastião Salgado

OK, OK! So I am no doubt at least partly to blame, I'm the one who put Salgado on the god like pedestal, for all that he has shown and taught us photographically, concerning not only the human condition, but the state of the entire planet. I'm the one old enough to know better; no one is perfect- we're all mortal and flawed and sinful and weak... And I was also wrong when I said that Burtynsky should have been more openly critical of the giants of industry and commerce that he so famously documented in Manufactured Landscapes. Truth is, had he been so, he would have never been granted the access necessary to photograph in the first place- and the resulting images would have never even seen the light of day, let alone spoken as loudly as they did. 

But goddang, Sebastião! Now, whenever I hear your hallowed name, think of the spectacular work you have produced, the eyes and minds you have awakened- the grand legacy you sought to so gloriously immortalize will forever be tainted and marred by the rationalizations of such lesser men. I don't know what the budget was for Genesis, but maybe if you had taken one less helicopter ride, had your book weighed one pound less- had your exhibition prints measured in feet, rather than... meters, maybe, just maybe, you wouldn't have had to accept money from Satan himself in the guise of Vale Mining ("a Brazilian mining corporation that in 2012 was voted the worst company for human rights and environmental credentials")! For in doing so, your work has not only documented what man has wrought upon this once great planet, it also explains how all of us, great and small, have contributed to that destruction- be it in full knowledge, sheer ignorance or absolute denial...   Update: Erratum...

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