Brazil • Born in 1944
For centuries, the Amazon was also known as the “green hell”, an impenetrable, waterlogged jungle that offered visitors nothing but danger. Those who survived it became famous for their stories. But many expeditions, especially those that hoped to find gold in the mythical lost city of El Dorado, never returned. Today, the rainforest has the gentler, almost romantic reputation of a “green paradise”, and is especially known for being home to a unique natural heritage, with one of the highest concentrations of plant species on the planet, including 16,000 varieties of tree and countless plants with remarkable medicinal potential.
Furthermore, this unparalleled density of plant life absorbs greenhouse gases and produces oxygen. It has also traditionally offered a safe haven to hundreds of indigenous tribes, of whom some have never been in contact with the outside world. To spend time in this forest, especially in indigenous communities, is to discover it in another light. First of all, vegetation is omnipresent in the understory: branches tangling together, acting as a
playground for the 15 species of monkey that populate the forest.
The indigenous tribes, who have an extraordinary ability to move through the understory, can walk for days on end and sleep in the forest to visit relatives in a distant village. On the Amazon river, boats act as buses, but to explore tributaries it is often necessary to borrow a motorboat capable of navigating the rapids. Travelling through the rainforest is an intoxicating adventure and a privilege, but also and always a challenge.
Exhibit designed by Lélia Wanick Salgado and created in collaboration with Studio Sebastião Salgado.
© Sebastião Salgado