Of Salgado, Summer, Artistic Adventures & New York City

10/02/2014 11:53:00 AM

The Second Spring is here. The leaves have began their winter melon'ish rendezvous and streets are about to turn in to paintings, and along with them, I have ventured on another artistic voyage of my own, to paint every corner of my new place, in red. but that's a story for another day I suppose. For now I am only trying to share a certain experience with you all, and Oh, how difficult it is to articulate my thoughts and put them in to words!... after all this while.

IMG_0194अनुच्छतु प्रवाहं ॥..meaning-  "Go with the flow". .. just like water...I keep telling myself at every situation. For all these months, I felt I had nothing significant to say or share, so I shifted my focus towards other things and stopped writing. This past week, I had the opportunity to attend a talk with world renowned Photographer Sebastiao Selgado in lower Manhattan, an experience, many felt I was lucky to have, and I thought I might share few thoughts about the episode with everyone since it sort of brought affirmation to my own opinions, aspirations and ambitions.

You may be surprised to hear that I had rarely heard this name until last year. Two mentions in different times w/ two different people, and I looked up for his work, and to say the least, was instantly connected and got so caught in his reverie of years past.

I may have underestimated both NYC and Selgado when I walked fast the 9th street from the light-rail station. I was about 7 minutes late to the event and I was pretty sure, I would not get the entry, It was a ticketed event, must have been class-room size discussion and it will start sharp on time, I thought. but hey new york city, I am beginning to get you now... slowly. and this is something I am going to put in my personal notes as well, and dated at that.

While you may note I love to just keep talking or scribbling in this case, I may take the pleasure in knowing and now sharing, that the man loves to talk. there was never a precise answer to anything, but every response a tale, an experience and how poetic is that. He says and I shall not quote him but put my own personal interpretation to to what I heard that - such is, each image, a personal interpretation, and there are thousands of them, but reality is still much beyond - So how you may capture it all? or How you may define it all? is the question I am asking. I caught myself peering through every single image in both the genesis, and his earlier work in two different presentations, and What I constantly noticed in almost every image :


You cant understand significance of a human element in an image unless you witness the vastness - Not just Genesis which is more so called landscape work of his, and recent most, I felt many images are in the category of those immeasurable. the vantage points, carefully picked up gave me an impression if some of these images were shots from helicopter / glider or something. Not all the landscapes can have such a slope that you can see human movement from a certain point to its utmost greatness. It seems someone invisible is watching, perhaps the birds's view or more like how God' must be watching certain story unfold in stills. My personal take-away that, and to tell you Sebastiao doesn't believe in God or So I heard.

In one more attempt to explain the infinite landscapes, I'd say that the frame have been chosen & shot in such a way that it seems "it is just you and your subject and nothing else exists. This not only explains the limitlessness of the image but also that Its a complete frame and nothing is chopped / cropped off. i.e. your eyes wont be traveling outside the frame. most likely, I mean, mine didn't.

I remember an image of tall-tall tree and a man hanging somewhere, I think it was from amazon tribe is where I noticed the tiny human element. But I believe my favorites of his are those with hundreds of people and lots of motion and movement involved. They tell a story in such a way that one image is enough. And if I haven't mentioned symmetry / geometry / lines in the images yet, It is more than evident in each of 'em. I love the lines in even the simplest of the shots and that tells how meticulously those were taken. I remember Him mentioning sometime he spent 8 hours on top of the mountain to photograph a certain image and that photography is all about time, not only timing as I understand.

Dinka Cattle Camp, Southern Sudan, 2006(©Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas/nbpictures)

One question a gentleman asked later in Q/A session so correlates to what I was thinking earlier. he said there is something divine about each image and I feel it is certainly so, the intelligence of the god and of the photographer and where they collide, together.

Am I qualified to critique his work? No.
These all are just my observations, and What was going on in my mind at the moment when I was looking at the presentations. I have my reservations about high contrast and I had difficult time understanding those images. I love colors and honestly in two long slides of B&W images, somewhere I was filling colors myself, and those were no longer black and white. I am not sure what to interpret of that.

I noticed many people taking notes during his talk, and I too i guess made a short video I am yet to upload to youtube, I am sure they talk must be available somewhere online most likely on ICP website, that aside, what stuck me the most, how one goes about labeling oneself as photographer or artist etc and how it is actually unimportant. secondly how much importance we give to our own life which we' re more or less just a drop in the ocean. I myself am bogged down by failures every now and then, and do get trapped in the nomenclature and labeling and branding part of everything while I personally know very well that Its not something I want to reach out for. I feel, listening to him, made me feel pretty comfortable with myself and I think I should wholeheartedly support myself in the path I have sketched for myself and continue traveling.

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