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Sebastião Salgado’s Genesis

Visual Documents - Sebastião Salgado’s Genesis

North of the Ob river, fierce winds keep even daytime temperatures low, as this image of a sled dog illustrates.

North of the Ob river, fierce winds keep even daytime temperatures low, as this image of a sled dog illustrates.

The new collection of photographs by Sebastião Salgado tilted Genesis are some of the most amazing photographs I have seen recently. He spent 8 years exploring 32 countries, to capture indigenous culture and far away landscapes. This appeals to me on both levels, as I am very interested in Anthropology and these picture capture some of the world indigenous tribes, the power of a photograph to capture an image and to document a story. I am also interested in landscapes. I have been a landscape designer for 10 years. My appreciation for the land is reminiscent of most indigenous tribes, in that I respect the land. I found all of the photographs to be full of color and indeed they are all in black and white which truly speaks to the talent of Salgado. He is able to speak through his images, in this collection, of a world few can even imagine, with such clarity and conviction you are lead on a journey through time and space. “Depicting the majesty of nature and the balance of human relationships with our fragile planet, the pictures provide unique glimpses into ancestral traditions and cultures.” (NHM, 2013) This is what it means to use a photo as a document. The ability to have the photo tell a part of the story. I singled out one photo that I thought was very powerful, yet simple. It is tilted “Crossing the Ob River”.

“Crossing the Ob river to enter the Arctic Circle, travelling some 50km (31 miles) over ice. The way of life of the Nenets of the Siberian Arctic is inseparable from the reindeer. Every spring, they move enormous herds of reindeer from winter pastures on the Russian mainland, travelling more than 1,000km (620 miles) north to summer pastures in the Arctic Circle. This ritual is so old that it seems unclear whether the Nenets follow the reindeer, or vice versa. The migration starts in mid-March in freezing temperatures and is immediately challenged by the need to cross the frozen Ob River. But the Nenets take this in their stride,

herds of reindeer

bolstered by a regimented work ethic and a robust culture. They survived early Russian colonization of Siberia and the dark years of the Soviet regime, but are now being exposed to the perils posed by development of oil and gas fields in the far north.” (The Guardian, 2012) This photo embraces the essence of life past and present. In this collection called Genesis Salgado captures a yearly migration that has taken place for centuries. Everyone can appreciate this collection especially a rare photo such as this. A seemingly odd picture if viewed alone turns into a lesson in cultural survival and puts life in perspective. This photo gives people a view of lands untouched by the industrialized world, Salgado's intention is to take you back in time to see the simple yet courageous ways our ancestors lived. Salgado shows us how man and animal rely on each other for survival. The ultimate journey across the artic, black dots lined across a white background in the shape of an arrow.


The Guardian (2012, December 7). Sebastião Salgado in Siberia - in pictures | Art and design | The Guardian. the Guardian. Retrieved March 30, 2013, from

The Natural History Museum (2013). Sebastiao Salgado's Genesis - Members preview. The Natural History Museum. Retrieved March 29, 2013, from's_genesis_-_members_preview.html?date=21.03.2013