AMOA Presents: Workers: Photographs by Sebastiao Salgado

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AMOA Presents: Workers: Photographs by Sebastiao Salgado
Workers emerging from a coal mine. Dhanbad, Bihar State, India, 1989,
Gelatin Silver Print, 19 5/8 X 23 1/2 inches, Photographs by Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas Images.



AUSTIN, TX.- The Austin Museum of Art (AMOA) presents Workers: Photographs by Sebastião Salgado. Sixty-two large-scale, black and white photographs are included in the exhibition. Salgado’s work poses many disparate questions. Do the photographs honor the dignity of labor, or expose brutal working conditions? Do they document economic growth and development, or provide insight into the human toil that supports our increasing consumption?

The exhibition also taps into Austin’s strong interest in photography, as reflected by numerous local galleries devoted to the medium, impressive public and private collections, and the many important documentary photographers who live in the region.

Educated as an economist, Salgado began his photography career in 1973. In the early 1970s, while working for the International Coffee Organization, Salgado borrowed his wife’s camera for a trip to Africa. It was after this trip that he decided to pursue his passion for photography. Salgado initially worked with the Paris-based agency, Gamma, but in 1979 he joined the international cooperative of photographers Magnum Photos. He left Magnum in 1994 and formed his own agency in Paris, Amazonas Images, to represent his work. Salgado began Workers in 1986. Over the next six years he traveled to 23 countries to photograph manual laborers. Workers was a monumental undertaking that confirmed his reputation as a photo documentarian of the first order.

“AMOA is thrilled to bring this major exhibition by Sebastião Salgado, one of the world’s most renowned documentary photographers, to our community,” said AMOA Executive Director Dana Friis-Hansen. “With its stirring images of individuals engaged in all types of manual labor from every corner of the world, the Workers series will inspire everyone who experiences it.”

Throughout his thirty-five-plus years as a photographer, Sebastião Salgado has remained committed to documenting humanity’s challenges and hopes. Salgado’s transformative images bestow dignity on the most isolated and neglected, from famine stricken refugees in the Sahel to the indigenous peoples of South America. His series, Workers, stands as a testament to the world’s laborers at a time of transition.

Divided into six categories—Agriculture, Food, Mining, Industry, Oil, and Construction — Workers is a global project that transcends mere imagery and affirms the enduring spirit of working men and women throughout the world. The photographs span the realities of work in myriad forms—from rolling Cuban cigars, to picking tea on Rwandan plantations to fishing in Italy. Salgado undertook this epic project because of concerns about changes in way the people work around the world. Fifteen years later, Workers stands as the activist-artist’s manifesto. Inspired by globalization, he set out to document its effects on methods of production in the developing world. Some agricultural practices in the third world, as shown in his photographs of workers gathering Brazilian cocoa or coal mining in India, have remained unchanged for centuries. Other countries, like India and China, have undergone an industrial revolution in the last decade, forever changing how work is defined in those societies. Salgado consciously reveals that much of the world’s work force still labors to make goods they cannot afford. With growing inequity between the first and third world, this body of work is relevant to today’s dynamic global markets. Sebastião Salgado’s Workers is a photographic homage to changing methods of work, and a tribute to the humanity of the world’s workers.

“I hope that the person who visits my exhibitions, and the person who comes out, are not quite the same,” says Salgado. “I believe that the average person can help a lot, not by giving material goods but by participating, by being part of the discussion, by being truly concerned about what is going on in the world.”

Also on view at AMOA-Downtown will be The Texas Chair Project: by Damian Priour. For additional information, please visit www.amoa.org.










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