Thursday, December 4, 2008

Studs Terkel - Working, at Salgado exhibition, AMOA, December 3

At one point during the performance in the Congress Avenue gallery of the Austin Museum of Art an actress portrayng a waitress sang out, “Right this way, party of 32!”

Maybe we were more numerous, but I don’t think we got up to fifty.

This was an intimate performance – five actors doing three monologues and a duologue, standing in the gallery before the photographs taken by Brazilian economist and social activist SebastiĆ£o Salgado.

Arriving half an hour before the performance, I joined others who were absorbing Sagado’s vision. In the period 1986 – 1993 he traveled to 23 countries, where he photographed men and women at work in some of the most difficult jobs and environments imaginable. Sicilian fishermen herding enormous tuna into a killing tank on the open sea and then spearing them; laborers in non-mechanized sulfur pits in Indonesia, who carried 155 pounds of sulfur ore on their backs, ascending 2000 feet from the pit of an extinct volcano; ship-breakers on the beach in Bangladesh; cane-cutters in Cuba, both at work in the fields and gathered in exhaustion afterwards in their barracks.

Salgado’s work is gorgeous and chilling.

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