When Nature Reigned: Salgado’s Genesis exhibition

Sebastião Salgado has never shied away from ambitious photo assignments. His previous long-term projects, "Workers," which explored the often brutal conditions endured by laborers, and "Migrations," which examined displaced population, were enormous undertakings that required years of travelling in unhospitable environments. Man's cruelty to his fellow man was a theme that dominated the work and though the images often depicted terrible suffering, they were always exquisitely composed.

His latest exploration has an even broader scope and human exploitation is noticeably absent. "Genesis" attempts to show us what the world looked like before humans transformed it. Begun in 2004, its main subjects are sweeping landscapes, wildlife and frequently indigenous people living in harmony with the earth.

“Genesis is a quest for the world as it was, as it was formed, as it evolved, as it existed for millennia before modern life accelerated and began distancing us from the very essence of our being,” according to Lélia Wanick Salgado, the photographer's wife and curator of the exhibit.

Though in many ways more palatable than the harsh subjects of his previous work, Salgado is no less determined to incite action with this work. "Through these photographs, Salgado pays homage to a fragile planet he believes we must all protect," says the exhibition's press release.

The International Center of Photography (ICP) is the first U.S. venue to present "Genesis." On view from Sept. 19, 2014, through January 11, 2015, the exhibition draws together more than 200 black-and-white photographs.

Above: Chinstrap penguins dive off icebergs located between Zavodovski and Visokoi islands in the South Sandwich Islands, 2009.

© Sebastiã£o Salgado / Amazonas
© Sebastiã£o Salgado / Amazonas
© Sebastiã£o Salgado / Amazonas
© Sebastiã£o Salgado / Amazonas