NYC Day 20: Study in Contrasts

Gorgeous day in Manhattan.

 

 

Which begs the question why I was inside the International Center of Photography in Midtown. I can’t really defend the decision. Tt was admittedly the perfect day to be out kayaking or continuing my exploration of Hudson River Park or Riverside Park. 

 

I did see these and other photographs by Sebastião Salgado (1944-), however, in a collection that he and his wife Lélia Wanick Salgado call Genesis. It’s the result of an eight-year worldwide survey to photograph wildlife, landscapes, seascapes, and indigenous peoples, thereby raising awareness of the need for conservation. Salgado did similar work on projects called Workers (1993) and Migrations (2000).

 

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They are amazing people, these Salgados. They have a project called Instituto Terra in Brazil, through which they have reforested a large tract of land, Bulcão Farm, that his family had once owned and later sold. Used as a cattle farm, it was laid bare, with all the lamentable consequences of deforestation. But the Instituto Terra has replanted 2,700,000 trees in 100 different species on the farm and on other nearby tracts. Wonderful!

 

 

All that said, I’m not sure how to feel about the photographs in the Genesis exhibition. They are stunning, yes. They hold me in thrall. I want to go to those places now. But I also wonder whether it might be a mistake to treat nature as something so exotic, if the intention is indeed to issue a call to action. A mistake to treat it as something out there and faraway and remote. As something, simply put, that seems to have little to do with our day-to-day lives.

 

I mean, right down the street from the center is Bryant Park. All those people with their chess and coffee and conversation and reading. Sitting under those trees. Drawn to that green oasis in the concrete canyons of Manhattan. While a precious few were walking around and looking at those gorgeous pictures.

 

Do we have to meet people where they’re at, so to speak? Unfortunately, perhaps?

 

 

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