“The Amazon forest is the prehistory of humanity, the paradise on Earth“, declared Salgado at the presentation to the press with his new exhibition through which he wants to awaken “consciences“. The exhibition is the result of a seven-year journey through the largest tropical forest in the world.
The work introduces a clear and militant message: “We all have to fight” and “help the Brazilian resistance movements” to stop deforestation, he said, denouncing that the government of President Jair Bolsonaro is trying to “appropriate indigenous territories and national parks” to develop new agricultural extensions.
Launched on May 20 at the Paris Philharmonic, the show will travel to cities such as London and Rome, as well as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
“Amazonia” is undoubtedly his most personal and vindicating work. Salgado, 77, had intended to invite indigenous leaders to the opening to make their voices heard against the destruction of their habitat and its consequences for the planet, which he still hopes to do once the pandemic allows.
The journey is followed by music composed especially for the occasion by the French musician Jean-Michel Jarre, one of the pioneers of electronic music, who adds: “the exhibition could have been the work of a documentary filmmaker, but it is the work of an artist. Salgado invites us to a mystical walk, which is what we need now that we are starting to come out of this pandemic.”
Amazônia is the saga of the Indigenous communities, portrayed on the ground floor, in their daily lives, and at the same time the jungle as it has rarely been seen, photographed from aeroplanes and helicopters.
The photographer reminds us that starting with water, with the Amazon and its affluents that snake across the land for thousands of kilometres, the so-called “flying rivers” – enormous torrents of steam that form over the forest – and the torrential rains, which in Salgado‘s photographs seem capable of immersing the observer.
“The indigenous people are us. When you go to work with indigenous communities, you are with your community, the community of Homo sapiens,” he says. “But it is a protected community, which has not been violated, which has not had the influences of the great religious currents or the deformations imposed by the limits of the states, nor by the domination of capital or politics. They are free beings! They live in peace“. At another moment he affirms: “That world is close to the initial concept of what for us is paradise. Paradise exists! Imagine that you wake up and can go hunting or not, go fishing or not, sleep whenever you want” ( Extract).
The editor Taschen is publishing Amazonia in book format. And until the end of October an exhibition of the same name is on show at the City of Music in Paris. Both book and exhibition were conceived and edited by Lélia Wanick Salgado.