Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sebastiao Salgado, Genesis @ Yancey Richardson Gallery

God. Salgado makes the most boring pictures of the most amazing subject matter. It really is an amazing skill, one only matched by the master of bland, Edward Burtynsky. Salgado goes to the most dramatic places on earth and then, through overly romanticized, high contrast images, produces work that is so similar to every photojournalist picture ever that they become endlessly clich├ęd art. His inability to resist making a Salgado out of everything ends up completely removing the viewer from the event being photographed. He could make a dull picture of the return of Christ to reunite Genesis while having sex with Phil Collins on an iceberg. He is a black hole of photographic charisma.

I might be the wrong audience, being a photographer who sees lots of pictures and all, but I can’t remember ever being motivated to do anything political from seeing a picture. Reading an article sure, seeing documentaries, movies, hell, TV, but I've never opened a magazine or art book and seen a picture that motivated me to give to a cause or volunteer or go to a protest, nothing. I think photographs can be helpful tools in assisting in the communicating of an idea, but on their own they are pretty unconvincing. So to wrap up, Salgado is a terribly dull photographer whose life’s work has been to assist others with better tools, change public opinion. Also, I am gonna be very angry if the Oscar for documentaries goes to the film about Salgado rather than to Virunga, the touching movie about park rangers caring for mountain gorillas during a civil war in Congo (which got me to donate to assist the maintenance of the park).

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