Beyond a Witness: Photography and social justiceSebastião Salgado and Shahidul Alam in conversation with Nathaniel Gaskell

In keeping with its Art as Witness theme, MAP is pleased to present acclaimed Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist, Sebastião Salgado in conversation with the well-known Bangladeshi photographer and activist, Shahidul Alam. Moderated by the Museum’s Associate Director and Head of Photography, Nathaniel Gaskell, the session explores the role of photography in witnessing and recording social injustice and inequities; as well as its ability to drive awareness, create empathy and build activism.   

Sebastião Salgado is a Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist, who has travelled in over 100 countries for his photographic projects. Beyond press publications his work was presented in a number of books that have been published since 1986 such as Migrations and Portraits  (2000), Africa (2007) and a number of others including his latest one which was Gold, Serra Pelada Gold Mine (2019). All these books have been edited, conceived and designed by Lélia Wanick Salgado. Touring exhibitions of these works have been, and continue to be, presented in museums and galleries throughout the world.

Salgado has been awarded numerous photographic prizes in recognition of his accomplishments. He is the recipient of a number of prestigious honours in the USA, France and Brazil. In 2016, Salgado was elected member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts of Institut de France, and was named Chevalier (Knight) de la Légion d’Honneur, France. Since the 1990s, Lélia and Sebastião have worked together on the restoration of part of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, in the state of Minas Gerais. In 1998 they succeeded in turning this land into a nature reserve and created the Instituto Terra. The Instituto is dedicated to a mission of reforestation, conservation and environmental education.

Shahidul Alamis a photographer, writer, curator and activist, whose photographs have been published in almost every major western media outlet. A former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up Drik agency, Bangladesh Photographic Institute, Chobi Mela festival, Majority World agency and Pathshala, the South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Alam also introduced email to Bangladesh in the early nineties. In 2018, he was jailed for over 100 days for criticising his government.

 A Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018, he has shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou Paris and Tate Modern London and been a speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, Alam guest-curated at Whitechapel Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His publications include my My Journey as a Witness and The Tide Will Turn. His awards include Shilpakala Padak, the highest national award given to Bangladeshi artists, as well as the Infinity and Lucie Foundation Awards.   

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