When Sebastião Salgado was finally authorised to visit Serra Pelada in September 1986, having been blocked for six years by Brazil’s military authorities, he was ill-prepared to take in the extraordinary spectacle that awaited him on this remote hilltop on the edge of the Amazon rainforest. Before him opened a vast hole, some 200 meters wide and deep, teeming with tens of thousands of barely-clothed men. Half of them carried sacks weighing up to 40 kilograms up wooden ladders, the others leaping down muddy slopes back into the cavernous maw. Their bodies and faces were the color of ochre, stained by the iron ore in the earth they had excavated.
After gold was discovered in one of its streams in 1979, Serra Pelada evoked the long-promised El Dorado as the world’s largest open-air gold mine, employing some 50,000 diggers in appalling conditions. When Salgado’s images reached The New York Times Magazine, something extraordinary happened: there was complete silence. “In my entire career at The New York Times,” recalled photo editor Peter Howe, “I never saw editors react to any set of pictures as they did to Serra Pelada.” The mine at Serra Pelada has been long closed, yet the intense drama of the gold rush leaps out of these images.
This signed and limited Collector’s Edition is the first monograph that brings this body of work together in full. With museum-quality reproductions and printed with cutting-edge High Definition Skia Photography technology, the book brings Salgado's raw, biblical images to life.
Signed and numbered by Sebastião Salgado Edition of 1,000 Hardcover in clamshell box, 196pp Book size: 16 x 17 3/4 inches / 41 x 45 cm