The Brazilian world-renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado was an illustrious guest at the Kuarup (an Indians ceremony honoring the dead) last week in the Kuikuro Indian village of Ipatse, in the Upper Xingu.
Known all over the world for images that depict social struggles and denounce the ills of developing countries, Salgado defends the creation of a national movement in defense of the Xingu Indian Park.
He regards the Xingu as a cultural reference for Brazil and humanity. “I hope there will be a national movement against this rush for profit, this greediness of the soybean culture. Care is needed to avoid destroying this national reference,” he says.
The photographer says he is in the Xingu gathering images for his latest project, entitled “Genesis.”
“I am searching for references to the beginning of humanity, cultures that represent the start of the human race as a whole. With great delight, that is what I just encountered here in the Upper Xingu,” he commented.
“Genesis” was launched in 2003, is expected to take eight years, and counts on the support of the UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization).
Salgado has been in the Upper Xingu for 40 days, documenting not only the Kuarup but various other Xingu Indian rituals. Prior to the Upper Xingu, Salgado says he was in the Galapagos Islands and in Antarctica.
From the Xingu he plans to go to Namibia, in Africa, where he will photograph desert peoples, such as the Bushmen. From there he will travel to Ethiopia and Sudan.
Salgado, an economist, began his career in the International Coffee Organization in the decade of the 1970’s. His job took him to Asian and African countries on missions connected with the World Bank.
There he began to photograph the developing world. At present he is a special UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund) ambassador and an honorary member of the Arts Academy of the United States.