For a decade, Serra Pelada evoked the long-promised El Dorado as the worlds largest open-air gold mine, employing some 50,000 diggers in appalling conditions. Today, Brazils gold rush is merely the stuff of legend, kept alive by a few happy memories, many pained regretsand Sebastião Salgados photographs. This collection is a major document of modern history and an extraordinary photographic portfolio.
What is it about a dull yellow metal that drives men to abandon their homes, sell their belongings and cross a continent in order to risk life, limbs and sanity for a dream? Sebastião Salgado
When Sebastião Salgado was finally authorized to visit Serra Pelada in September 1986, having been blocked for six years by Brazils military authorities, he was ill-prepared to take in the extraordinary spectacle that awaited him on this remote hilltop on the edge of the Amazon rainforest. Before him opened a vast hole, some 200 meters wide and deep, teeming with tens of thousands of barely-clothed men. Half of them carried sacks weighing up to 40 kilograms up wooden ladders, the others leaping down muddy slopes back into the cavernous maw. Their bodies and faces were the color of ochre, stained by the iron ore in the earth they had excavated.
This book gathers Salgados complete Serra Pelada portfolio in museum-quality reproductions, accompanied by a foreword by the photographer and an essay by Alan Riding.
The photographer and author:
Sebastião Salgado began his career as a professional photographer in Paris in 1973 and subsequently worked with the photo agencies Sygma, Gamma, and Magnum Photos. In 1994 he and his wife Lélia Wanick Salgado created Amazonas Images, which exclusively handles his work. Salgados photographic projects have been featured in many exhibitions as well as books, including Sahel, L'Homme en détresse (1986), Other Americas (1986), Workers (1993), Terra (1997), Migrations (2000), The Children (2000), Africa (2007), Genesis (2013), The Scent of a Dream (2015), and Kuwait, A Desert on Fire (2016).
The editor and art director:
Lélia Wanick Salgado studied architecture and urban planning in Paris. Her interest in photography started in 1970. In the 1980s she began conceiving and designing the majority of Sebastião Salgados photography books and all the exhibitions of his work. Lélia Wanick Salgado has been the director of Amazonas Images since 1994.
The contributing author:
Alan Riding is a Brazilian-born British author and former long-time foreign correspondent for The New York Times. Having served as the papers bureau chief in Mexico, Brazil, and France as well as its European arts correspondent, he is now writing for the theatre. A resident of Paris like Sebastião Salgado, the two have been friends and collaborators since the early 1980s.
Hardcover, 9.8 x 13 in., 208 pages