Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado captures the essence of a continent in his series Other Americas

Salgado returned to South America in 1977 in an attempt to reconnect with his native land

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The Independent Culture

In an attempt to reconnect with his native land, the great Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado returned to South America in 1977, having been exiled in 1969 for joining the movement against his country's military government. Until 1984, he worked on a series he would later call Other Americas, in an attempt to capture the continent's essence.

"After some years of adventures in Europe and Asia, my only desire was to return to my beloved land – to this Latin America so dear and profound," writes Salgado about the images in a forthcoming exhibition at London's Photographers' Gallery. "Here dignity and poverty ride on the same horse. The struggle for survival is very difficult, and man, a hard beast, faces it from birth till death."

 

The 71-year-old, who now lives in Paris, began his photographic career in 1973, having previously worked as an economist. Other Americas was shot during a time of industrial growth, rising inequality and political turmoil, and shows a way of life under threat.

"The seven years spent making these images were like a trip seven centuries back in time to observe, unrolling before me … all the flow of different cultures, so similar in their beliefs, losses and sufferings. I decided to dive into the most concrete of unrealities in this Latin America, so mysterious and suffering, so heroic and noble."

Sebastião Salgado: Other Americas is at The Photographers' Gallery, London W1 (thephotographersgallery.org.uk) from Friday to 1 November

© Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas Images/NB pictures

Courtesy of The Photographers' Gallery

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