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Photographer Sebastiao Salgado goes to the brink and back

Renowned photographer Sebastiao Salgado went where few men have gone before to capture the remote beauty of nature.

Published on Apr 22, 2014 12:25 PM

At the turn of the millennium, famed Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado made up his mind to go back in time.

The 70-year-old, well-known for his marathon photo projects on gritty social issues such as migrant communities and manual labourers, had set his sights on a new mission - to document a world and a way of life as it was in the beginning, where man lived in and with nature as one.

His quest to capture the pristine beauty of the world became an epic 12-year project titled Genesis.

He spent four years on intense research, planning and fund-raising to meet the project's budget of €8 million (S$13.8 million). In the following eight years, he made perilous expeditions to 32 remote countries and regions where he faced extreme climates and diets, and a few close shaves with death.

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Background story


1944: Born in Brazil, in the small town of Aimores, the sixth of eight children and only son in a family of cattle ranchers

1968: Received a master's in economics from the University of Sao Paolo and Vanderbilt University

1967: Married Lelia Deluiz Wanick. They have two sons - Juliano, 40, and Rodrigo, 34

1971: Received a doctorate in economics from the University of Paris. Took his first photographs with his wife's camera, which she used for her studies in architecture

1973: Left his job as an economist at the International Coffee Organisation to become a full-time photographer. He worked freelance before joining photography agencies such as Sygma, Gamma and Magnum Photos

1982: Received the Eugene Smith Award for Humanitarian Photography in the United States

1986: Received Photojournalist of the Year Award from the International Center of Photography in the United States (and again in 1988). Launched his first book, Other Americas, on the Indians and peasants of Latin America; and a second one, Sahel: Man In Distress, on the drought-stricken Sahel region of Africa

1993: Produced Workers, a seminal project comprising a book and touring exhibition based on photographs he took in 23 countries between 1986 and 1992, which document the end of large-scale industrial manual labour

1994: Set up Amazonas images, a Paris-based agency that handles his work exclusively

1998: Set up Instituto Terra, a non-governmental organisation and environmental institution to restore a part of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, which has since turned into a nature reserve

2000: Produced Migrations, an iconic photo project comprising a book and touring exhibition based on pictures taken between 1993 and 1999 in 43 countries that document the mass migration of people such as refugees, exiles, landless peasants and orphans

2001: Named a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Children's Fund

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Where: National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, Basement, Exhibition Gallery 2

When: Saturday to July 27, 10am to 6pm daily

Admission: Free