Few names hold quite as much weight as that of Sebastião Salgado in the world of photography, and any other art medium for that matter.

It comes as no surprise whatsoever then, that the arrival of his groundbreaking exhibition Amazônia in Manchester has been met with overwhelming anticipation from the moment it was first announced

His latest work is the culmination of seven years spent living and working with twelve indigenous communities. The end result is as breathtaking as it is harrowing.

Throughout, constant call-backs to two key themes—climate change and the ongoing threats to these indigenous groups—serve as a stark reminder of the precarious path both the earth and its inhabitants are currently heading down.

Things are essentially split into two parts. The first half of the room immerses you in these staggering aerial snapshots of bellowing waterfalls, behemoth mountain faces and fearsome storm-laden cloud formations. The glorious industrial interior of the museum flows seamlessly into these forceful, raw photos that cascade from the ceiling, combining to create this mesmeric, riveting maze of beautifully dark imagery.

A transportive soundtrack also shrouds you as you wander, courtesy of renowned composer Jean-Michel Jarre, the sounds of the forest complement the photos perfectly, adding to the evoking experience in a way that elevates the whole experience.

The second half hones in on the indigenous communities, offering a rare, fascinating snapshot into their daily lives, traditions, and the constant struggles faced to protect their ways of life through a combination of video and even more haunting photography. It’s the footage in particular that offers a grim reminder of how society’s greed continues to take priority over human lives, at times making for uncomfortable, yet essential viewing.

This is far more than just a showing of art. Yes, the imagery is spectacular and a blatant testament to Salgado’s unparalleled ability to immortalise his subject matter, but at a time when humanity faces some of its greatest questions to date, the life-altering themes conveyed throughout strike harder than ever before.

A Manchester Wire Partnership post
Fri 13 May - Sun 14 Aug, Science and Industry Museum,
Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4FP
Bradley Lengden
Published on:
Fri 12 Aug 2022