Art and Climate Change: Sebastião Salgado’s “Genesis”

Science and photography have joined forces to increase public awareness about the pressing issues of climate change and the environment. Sebastião Salgado’s Genesis, on view at the International Center of Photography in NYC, is a series of 200 black and white photographs that document what society has to lose if actions are not taken to mitigate climate change. They are the product of an eight-year global survey of landscapes, seascapes, wildlife, and indigenous peoples.

Inspired by nature’s ability to restore itself on his family’s former cattle ranch in Brazil, Salgado’s photographs capture the beauty and grandeur of what remains of this planets’s pristine wilderness. In a statement written on a wall of the exhibition, Salgado and his wife/curator, Lélia Wanick Salgado, say, “As well as displaying the beauty of nature, Genesis is also a call to arms. We cannot continue to pollute our soil, water, and air. We must act to preserve unspoiled land and seascapes and protect the natural sanctuaries of ancient peoples and animals. And we have to go further: we can try to reverse the damage we have done.”

Using the images as a springboard for discussion, the ICP has arranged a number of events to accompany the exhibition. These include a series of lectures and panel discussions as well as a schedule of gallery walks where climate scientists from Columbia University explain the environmental issues facing the particular regions represented in Salgado’s photographs.

The exhibition runs through January 11, 2015.  For the full schedule of events, visit: http://www.icp.org/museum/exhibitions/icp-talks

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The eastern part of the Brooks Range, The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, USA, 2009. © Sebastião Salgado.  Credit: Sebastião Salgado/ICP

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About Melissa Fleming

Melissa Fleming is an environmental communicator and visual artist working at the intersection of art and science. She is passionate about exploring, learning, and sharing information about the natural world. She has presented her interdisciplinary work in a variety of mediums at venues and conferences around the world.