By Michael Webb
The most important photographic exhibition of the year opens on June 29th at the Peter Fetterman Gallery in Bergamot Station, Santa Monica. Sebastião Salgado—Genesis is the distillation of an eight-year project: an odyssey by the Brazilian photographer to remote parts of the world that remain pristine. Its importance resides in the epic grandeur of the images, and the message that it is not too late to save the planet from despoilation. Salgado is a fearless explorer and a brilliant artist, as earlier series, “Workers” and “Migrations”, proved. Genesis is even more ambitious, and it may be the last this 70-year-old can undertake. That makes this tribute to the wonders of nature and the tribes that live in harmony with the natural world even more affecting.
Henri Cartier-Bresson introduced Salgado to Fetterman, who is now one of the photographer’s ardent supporters and principal dealers. He curated the selection of images on show in his spacious gallery, and will be selling the large black and white prints alongside the full collection that’s been published by Taschen Books in trade and collectors’ editions. In a world that complacently hastens its destruction by climate change and lacks the will to arrest catastrophe, these images symbolize the beauty we stand to lose. Melting icecaps and rising sea levels, endangered wildlife and tribal habitat invaded by greedy settlers, will steadily erode the earthly paradise Salgado recorded. Cherish it while it’s still here.