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Thursday, September 18, 2014

THE SALT OF THE EARTH


By D.E.Levine

Sebastiao Salgado has long been recognized as one of the great photographer/visual artists in the world.  A master with light and form using the camera for black and white photos, Salgado has for decades chosen empathetic themes that result in stirring images about the human condition.

This is a documentary that is co-directed by famed director Wim Wenders and the Salgrado's son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.

As Sebastiao Salgado discusses his work, the directors project images of that work behind the photographer.

Born in a Brazilian mining area, with an education in economics, Salgado went into exile in France in 1969, after a coup in his own country, and worked for the World Bank.  He and his wife Lelia invested in camera equipment and he left her behind when he went to Niger in 1973 to start on his photographic career.

Over the years Salgado has produced a series of images, each dedicated to a particular theme, and they have been turned into books.  Embittered by what he's seen in the world, Salgado eventually returns to his family farm which is now dry land and unable to be farmed.  He and his wife embark
upon am ambitious project of replanting the land.  Their experimental technique proved successful and the farm is now the Instituto Terra, whose techniques have been used to replant other parts of Brazil.

During his years of travel, Lelia was his partner and a vital force in organizing his professional projects as well as his home life and that of his children.  She is portrayed as an equal partner and still remains so in the running of Instituto Terra.

Visually, this is a stunning documentary, both in black and white and color scenes.  The description of the motivation behind the photographic projects and the results is also fascinating and adds depth to the understanding of the artist and his work.