Photography Exhibit Focuses On Plight of Modern Refugees

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As hundreds without seats chanted outside Wheeler Auditorium, an audience inside strained to hear famed photographer Sebastião Salgado speak Monday night about his series "Migrations," currently on exhibit at Berkeley Art Museum.

Photography is the universal language, of which he is a "writer," Salgado said.

"I have the ability to freeze a second," he said. "The 300 photos may only add up to one second, but it is very powerful."

The current exhibit, collected over six years and in 40 different Third World countries, is designed to chronicle the migration of those who are forced to flee from their homes.

Divided into four sections, the collection, in Salgado's eyes, reflects the plights of different people. "Migrants and Refugees: The Survival Instinct" documents individuals as they move into large urban centers or attempt to cross borders in search of new lives.

Other sections demonstrate what Salgado believes is the abandonment of Africa by the West, the rapid urbanization of Asia and the vast movement of farmers in Latin America from the country into urban centers.

Many of the people living in a society like the United States are under the impression that everyone lives the same quality of life, Salgado said.

"In Rwanda I saw a man working 12 hours a day, but he cannot buy shoes, he cannot buy health care, he cannot buy education," Salgado said. "But he works the same as us."

Salgado said his work is a reflection of current world trends and is a chronicle of modern history.

"I have been to over 100 countries, and there are very few countries in the Third World where the second time is better than the first, the third time better than the second," he said.

Salgado said his work is a cross section of the world.

"The pictures speak about our history," he said. "It was necessary to come here and talk about our society, not just about photography."


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