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Virgin planet The Genesis of Sebastião Salgado

When Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado finished Exodus, a project documenting the migration journeys of people across 40 countries in the late 1990s, he had witnessed so much violence that he lost his faith in humanity and was on the brink of depression.

Retreating to his family’s fazenda (large farm) in Aimorés, the village of his birth in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, he found a region which had suffered significant deforestation since his youth.

His parents handed on the estate to him, and together with Lélia, his partner in both life and work, Salgado set about replanting this part of the Atlantic Forest. In doing so, he created Project Earth, which has resulted in the planting of more than two million trees. Reenergised by their success, the couple came up with the idea for Genesis, a project that aims to reveal parts of the planet that are still untouched.

The project required two years of preparation, eight years of travelling – from the Antarctic to the Arctic, the Galapagos to the Amazon – and another two years to edit. The two-volume Genesis has quickly become a bestseller and has been the subject of photographic exhibitions in several countries. Currently showing at Lausanne’s Musée de l’Elysée until January 5, Salgado talks to about the project.

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