Sunday, 11 May 2008
In 1984 Sebastiao Salgado began a fifteen-month project of photographing the Sahel region of Africa in the countries of Chad, Ethiopia, Mali and Sudan, where approximately one million people died from extreme malnutrition. Working with the humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres, Salgado documented the enormous suffering and the great dignity of the refugees. Since then he has showed in different projects how human beings struggle because of military conflict, poverty, famine, overpopulation and other form of catastrophe.
Salgado explains: “ With documentary photography the difference is that the photographer must have a big concern, you must have a big ideological affinity with the subject you will be shooting, because if you don’t, you cannot remain sincere and empathetic for long. You must strongly identify with the subject”
Salgado’s body of work is one of the most exciting and inspirational for me so I am thinking already about the essay title number 9 “ Sebastiao Salgado weakens the force of his message by the sheer beauty of his images”. It raise very important issues about the nature of concerned photography and it questions whether Salgado’s photographs undermine rather than dignify his subjects and his intentions of social awareness and change. Also very interesting and worth researching are the issues of curatorial practice in presenting documentary photography as art, and the use of visual quality and aesthetic beauty as hook to audiences.