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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Earth Elegy

Sebastião Salgado's Genesis presents a world: land, animals, peoples, as they have looked for eons, untouched by the effects of modern industrialization. These are both extraordinarily beautiful images in terms of composition, tonality and subject and incredibly powerful ones as well. We know the back story: the melting ice caps, the slaughtered elephants, the rape of the land occurring on all the continents on earth and our hearts bleed.

I don't know why Salgado's images affected me so much more than say, a Natural Geographic spread, but I'm thinking it's the black and white medium, the size, although they're not all large format and the sheer number on display. But whether they're the tribesmen of Papua New Guinea (who demonstrate with their leaves, feathers, mud and attitude that fashion and style are basic human qualities), or the tender image of mother and baby gorilla whose soulful eyes seem so very not that different from our own, the leopard regarding the viewer warily from across a watering hole, the terrified charging elephant, the jaw dropping scenery of Brazil, Canada, Alaska or the Nenet people of Siberia who have thrown their lot in with the reindeer migrating seasonally across vast expanses of ice, we know each and every one of them is threatened.