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Science Museum Opens Major New Exhibition by Sebastião Salgado: Amazônia

  • From 13 October visitors to the Science Museum can see the latest blockbuster exhibition from celebrated photographer, Sebastião Salgado, that explores the rich diversity of the Amazon;
  • With over 200 images, captured over 7 years spent travelling in the region, visitors will get to explore one of the most unique environments on the planet through Salgado’s eyes;
  • Opening in the run-up to COP26 Amazônia provides a first-hand look at some of the places and peoples most at risk of climate change;
  • The exhibition includes an immersive soundtrack that brings the sounds of the rainforest indoors, and video interviews with indigenous leaders fighting to protect their home.

Today the Science Museum opens a new exhibition exploring the work of world-renowned Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado – Amazônia.

Famous for documenting the social and environmental issues facing the planet, Salgado’s photography explores the dialogue between nature and humanity. Salgado worked in the Amazon for seven years with twelve different indigenous communities to create this new photography project. Amazônia presents Salgado’s view of the indigenous people and dramatic panoramas of this incredible region through over 200 black and white images, most of which have never been seen in the UK.

From images of lush rainforests taken from river boats and sweeping aerial shots of immense waterfalls and stormy skies to portraits of the diverse indigenous communities that call this special part of the world home, Amazônia offers visitors the opportunity to see this unique environment through the lens of one of the most eminent photographers working today.

Before entering the exhibition, visitors will be introduced to the Amazon’s vital role in our global climate, and the risk that it is approaching an irreversible tipping point, through a short film commissioned by the Science Museum. In the film a climate scientist and indigenous leaders discuss the major threats to the forest posed by deforestation, fires and climate change, which risk tipping the Amazon permanently from lush rainforest to dry savannah. They highlight what can and is being done to prevent reaching a tipping point, which would have devastating impacts across the globe.

On entering the exhibition, visitors will journey through the incredible vistas of the Amazon. A series of large-scale photographs hang from the ceiling, depicting the region’s vast landscapes and illustrating Salgado’s vision of the Amazon as a unique region of unparalleled beauty that is in critical need of protection. Visitors will discover ‘flying rivers’, a natural phenomenon whereby trees transport large quantities of water vapour into the atmosphere, that creating a cycle that supplies crucial water to the wider region. Throughout the exhibition visitors will hear a specially commissioned immersive soundtrack by Jean-Michel Jarre that brings the sounds of the forest into Amazônia.

 

Curated and designed by Lélia Wanick Salgado, Amazônia is not just focused on sharing the beauty of the region’s flora and fauna but also gives an insight into the impact of deforestation and environmental damage on the communities that call the Amazon home.

Amongst the forest of suspended photographs are three structures evoking the homes of ten indigenous groups who live in and protect the Brazilian Amazon. In this section Salgado presents intimate portraits and vivid images of the communities going about their daily lives, interspersed with video interviews with the indigenous leaders working to protect their ancestral lands.

The groups featured include the Yanomami, who have been particularly threatened in recent years by the COVID-19 pandemic, illegal mining of their lands and the destruction of the forest. Visitors will get to see portraits of members of the community, including their Shaman Ângelo Barcelos, and leader Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, who speaks about the recent impacts on his community as part of the film on the Amazon’s tipping point.

 

In the final section of the exhibition visitors will also discover how the Salgados are working to protect the “other Brazilian rainforest”, the Mata Atlantica (Atlantic Forest) through the work of Instituto Terra.

Instituto Terra was founded by the Salgados in 1998 on degraded land previously farmed by the family. Over twenty years, they have slowly regrown part of the Atlantic Forest. Visitors will see photographs documenting the reforesting they have achieved and hear from staff at the Instituto about their work. The Instituto now provides a home for endangered species, raises millions of tree seedlings in its nursery every year, and trains young ecologists to help protect the region’s biodiversity for generations to come.

Sebastião Salgado, said: ‘As a Brazilian, the Amazon with its incredible colours, rich textures and awe-inspiring vistas has always held a special place in my heart. Over the course of seven years travelling through the region I witnessed first-hand the damage over-consumption has had on its landscapes and people. I hope visitors to Amazônia will feel inspired by its beauty but also understand the urgent need for action to prevent this unique biodiversity being lost.’

Sir Ian Blatchford, Science Museum Group Director, said:Amazônia is both beautiful and urgent. Climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity and through hundreds of compelling black and white photographs Salgado highlights the Amazon’s unique biodiversity, immense landscapes, and the lives of indigenous peoples living in unison with nature.’

Conny Kalcher, Group Chief Customer Officer of Zurich Insurance Group, said: ‘As an insurer we see the impact of climate change every day and believe that photography can raise awareness of the risks and urgent need for action. We share Sebastião Salgado and his wife Lelia’s views and aspirations for a better planet, so much so that we have joined forces on a reforestation project in the Atlantic Forest in Brazil.’

Roberto Marques, Group CEO of Natura &Co, said: ‘We are thrilled to be supporting this magnificent exhibition where Sebastião has captured Amazônia, bringing visibility to a forest rich in biodiversity and as well as in culture. For 20 years Natura &Co has collaborated with traditional, indigenous communities, creating sustainably sourced cosmetic products. Without the Amazon, the goal of holding global warming to 1.5 degrees  is unreachable. I’m honoured to say that sponsoring Amazônia is a small part of Natura &Co’s contribution to protecting and showing the importance of the forest.’

Amazônia is part of an international exhibition tour that began at the Philharmonie in Paris and includes the MAXXI in Rome, SESC in Sao Paulo and the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro. Amazônia will also open at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester in 2022. Sign up to emails to hear when tickets are available.

A diverse events programme running alongside the exhibition includes a screening of award-winning documentary The Salt of the Earth, a panel discussion on how to protect the Brazilian rainforest and a screening of The Last Forest, which takes the audience on a journey into the heart of an isolated Yanomami community in the Amazon.

As in Paris and Rome, the exhibition will be accompanied by a one-off live concert inspired by the themes explored in the exhibition, performed by the Britten Sinfonia at the Barbican on 14 October.

The exhibition is supported by Zurich Insurance Company Ltd (Principal Sponsor) and Natura &Co (Major Sponsor).

ENDS

 

Notes to editors                            

For more information, interview requests and hi-res imagery for Amazônia please contact the Press team at pressoffice@sciencemuseum.ac.uk. You can download the image sheet for the exhibition here and download images of visitors in the exhibition space here.

 

Visitor information

The Science Museum is open Wednesday – Sunday from 10.00 until 18.00. During school holidays the museum is open seven days a week.

You can also find the Science Museum’s What’s On guide with details of galleries, exhibitions and events at the museum here.

Listings

 

Amazônia

13 October 2021 - 20 March 2022
Science Museum, London

Tickets are £10 for adults, £9 for seniors, £8 for concessions, £4 for school groups and ages 11 and under go free.

www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/see-and-do/amazonia

This exhibition contains nudity and content that some visitors might find challenging.

EVENTS

Protecting Rainforests: The Planet’s Great Protectors

28 October, 19.30 – 20.45, free

In this online discussion a panel of experts will explore how global warming, deforestation, wildfires and the subsequent loss of biodiversity are shrinkingthe sizeofBrazilian rainforests andinhibiting their ability to act as “the lungs of the planet”. The panel will explore some of the solutions to preserving the forests, through reforestation, rewilding andindigenousstewardship. The panel includes: Scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Professor Carlos Nobre; botanist and former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, Professor Sir Ghillean Prance FRS, VMH; the event will be chaired by award-wining journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed with more speakers to be announced.

The Salt of the Earth + Sebastião Salgado in conversation

23 February, 19.30 – 22.00, £10

Join us for this stunning, Oscar-nominated documentary about celebrated photographer Sebastião Salgado, followed by a Q&A with Salgado himself, joining by live video link. For the last forty years, Sebastião Salgado has travelled the world, tracing the footsteps of an ever-changing humanity. He has witnessed and documented many of the major events of our times, taking in wars, famine, genocide and exodus. But in The Salt of the Earth he embarks on a new journey: to discover pristine territories, grandiose landscapes and wild nature as part of a huge photographic tribute to the planet’s beauty. Powerful, affecting and profound, The Salt of the Earth is not just a portrait of a great artist but one of life itself.

The Last Forest (12A)

10 March, 19.30 – 21.30, £10

Blending documentary footage with staged re-enactments, The Last Forest brilliantly portrays the lives of the Yanomami tribe and their connection to the nature around them. The film takes the audience through a journey into the heart of an isolated Yanomami community in the Amazon, where shaman Davi Kopenawa Yanomani tries to safeguard the forest and keep traditions alive, while the arrival of gold prospectors brings death and destruction to the community. The Last Forest was the winner of the coveted Audience Award at the Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival in 2021 and has been met with critical praise since its release. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with special guest speakers to be announced closer to the date. 

Amazônia concert

In Sebastião Salgado: Amazônia in concert, Simone Menezes will be conducting Britten Sinfonia, in music by Philip Glass and Heitor Villa-Lobos with projections of Salgado’s evocative, thought-provoking photography, introduced by the photographer himself (14 October, Barbican Hall).

 

About the Science Museum

The Science Museum is part of the Science Museum Group, the world’s leading group of science museums that share a world-class collection providing an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Over the last century the Science Museum, the home of human ingenuity, has grown in scale and scope, inspiring visitors with exhibitions covering topics as diverse as robots, code-breaking, cosmonauts and superbugs. 2020 marked a decade of transformation for the museum with the opening of the largest medical galleries in the world - Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries and Science City: The Linbury Gallery - the story of how London became a hub of discovery during 1550-1800. The Science Museum was named a winner of the prestigious Art Fund Museum of the Year prize for 2020. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk Twitter: @sciencemuseum

About Zurich Insurance Company Ltd

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a global insurer with 55,000 employees and an aspiration to become one of the most responsible and impactful businesses in the world. Zurich serves customers in more than 215 countries and territories, and provides products and services to protect individuals and businesses. Zurich was the first insurer to sign the UN Business Ambition Pledge to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C and is a founding member of the UN Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance and of the UN Net Zero Insurance Alliance. In 2020, Zurich became the exclusive sponsor of a biodiverse reforestation project in Brazil led by Instituto Terra, called the ‘Zurich Forest’ project.  Furthermore, Zurich is the proud global sponsor of the Amazônia Exhibition and Concerts. The Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, where it was founded in 1872. Further information is available at www.zurich.com.

About Natura &Co:

Natura &Co is a global, purpose-driven, multi-channel and multi-brand cosmetics group which includes Avon, Natura, The Body Shop and Aesop. Natura &Co posted net revenues of R$36.9 billion in 2020. The four companies that form the group are committed to generating positive economic, social and environmental impact. For 135 years Avon has stood for women: providing innovative, quality beauty products which are primarily sold to women, through women. Founded in 1969, Natura is a Brazilian multinational in the cosmetics and personal care segment, leader in direct sales. Founded in 1976 in Brighton, England, by Anita Roddick, The Body Shop is a global beauty brand that seeks to make a positive difference in the world. The Australian beauty brand Aesop was established in 1987 with a quest to create a range of superlative products for skin, hair and the body.