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Sebastião Salgado: Workers: An Archaeology of the Industrial Age

4.7 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0893815257
ISBN-10: 089381525X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Even as machines, robots and computers replace workers, Salgado's powerful, striking photographs reveal the backbreaking and unrelenting toil that is still the lot of millions of men and women around the globe. Never preachy or didactic, these 350 duotone images of tea pickers in Rwanda, dam builders in India, steelworkers in France and Ukraine, sugarcane harvesters in Brazil, assembly-line workers in Russia and China, sulfur miners in Indonesia and others, pay tribute to working people who preserve their dignity in the harshest conditions. In the lyrical accompanying essay, Salgado ( An Uncertain Grace ) laments Japan's industrial fishing which decimates fish stocks, France's agricultural policies and the global exploitation of manual laborers who do the bulk of the world's work.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Salgado, an economist by training, documents the unforgettable faces of workers at their jobs around the world. His widely published images of the oil-field firefighters in Kuwait may be the most familiar to U.S. readers. The catalog for a traveling exhibition, this book is divided into six chapters--Agriculture, Food, Mining, Industry, Oil, and Construction--that show the basest realities of work in some of its uncountable forms, from fishing in Spain, to textile factories in Kazakhstan, Eurotunnel construction in France, a slaughterhouse in South Dakota, and gold miners in Brazil. The reader almost never sees a smiling face or evidence of job satisfaction. Instead, this is an iconography of wage-labor toil, alienation, and survival. The location and subject of each related group of images are announced in the table of contents; otherwise, one needs to consult a separate softbound booklet in a pocket in the back, which offers Salgado's facts and statistics about the particular natural resource, geographical area, and type of work pictured. The reproductions here are of superb quality. The winner of numerous international photography awards, Salgado ( An Uncertain Grace , LJ 2/1/91) has renewed the "concerned photographer" genre and produced one of the finest books of this decade. Essential for all art and photography collections.
- Kathleen Collins, New York Transit Museum Archives, Brooklyn
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Aperture (June 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 089381525X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0893815257
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 10 x 13.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is an astonishing document on both the talents of Sebastiao Salgado and the roughness of some of the worst professions in the world. The book was several years in the making and it shows. A lot of credit goes to Aperture for such a quality print. Your first impression will be of astonishment as you browse through the pictures of one of the top photographers of this century. Then, you'll want to read the small booklet that explains what each picture is. One day I hope someone will print a teaching book of photography with as good pictures as these, but with all the detailed information of how the picture was taken (film, camera, lens, exposure, # of photos discarded, date, time of day & latitude, time spent to take the picture, etc). If there's anything to critize in this book is that no technical information is given at all. But that was the point of it. It is an art book, not a didactic one.
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Format: Hardcover
At first glance this book is very intimidating by size. I was overwhelmed by the amount of photos Salgado took of his subjects, which in this book were the workers around the world. As I flipped through each page I began to think of rather than looking at a book of a photographer's work, it seemed as if I was looking at a photo album dedicated to hard laborers. Each photo is extremely vivid and beautifully shot. In addition, each photo gives the impression that Salgado puts thought and emotion before shooting his subjects. This is apparent by the many angles he shot his subjects and more importantly the extreme close-up shots he had. In many of his pictures Salgado appears to capture not just the action of the subject, but the emotion and story as well. You can't help but sympathize for each worker. Furthermore you start to realize how much the world depends on this type of labor in order to move forward. In a sense, this entire book give a view into all the hard work it takes to create all the luxuries we take granted for.
The entire book itself is very high quality. Each picture is printed clearly and at a large scale to show each detail of Salgado's work. It's also neatly organized rather than photos jumbled everywhere. Photos are separated by the location where they are shot. Moreover, aside from the large scale photos in this book which take an entire spread, there are some fold-out pages that contain smaller photos which give it that "photo album" feel.
This book is evidence of how great of a photographer Sebastiao Salgado is.
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By A Customer on October 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
These are some of the most powerful photographs ever made. They are at once disturbing, thought provoking and astonishingly beautiful. Salgado is a genius of the medium. He is one of the very few who has managed to elevate photography to a genuine art form. By comparison, the work of most other contemporary photographers seems like paint-by-numbers dreck.
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Format: Hardcover
I discovered the book in a public library in Paris. I was really shocked when I just pass hundreds of pages just discovering great and greater pictures. In particular, I loved some chapters like the "Mattanza" thun-fish in Sicile, or the one settled in Bangladesh. The photographic style is pure and simple. The technique is simply perfect, so the work of Salgado is rated at a very high level, all over the book. The only "but" I find is that maybe there are so many good pictures you can swallow them at once!
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Format: Paperback
Salgado's eyes capture a world forgotten to most of us: a world where humanity is subjected to hard, unending labor. Here machines tower over their workers as hapless captives, as if man and machine have traded roles in some dark nightmare. And even amidst this bleak picture, Salgado has found a spark of humanity, still afire, testifying that their struggles are, in a way, still our own. An engrossing book.
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Format: Hardcover
This huge book of photographs documents manual workers around the world, circa 1986 to 1991. According to the Foreword, it was intended as homage to workers and "a farewell to a world of manual labor that is slowly disappearing." In more hifalutin language, "[t]he images offer a visual archaeology of a time that history knows as the Industrial Revolution, a time when men and women at work with their hands provided the central axis of the world."

That sentence and much else of the thirteen-page Foreword does not particularly resonate with me. Many of the photographs do, however. There are more than 370 pages of them, all in black-and-white. The subjects range from agricultural workers on sugar cane and cocoa plantations, to fishermen off Galicia and Sicily, to slaughterhouse workers in South Dakota, to steelworkers, canal diggers, coal miners, and the Chunnel borers. For me, the most striking and memorable photographs are those of the shipbreakers on the beaches of Bangladesh and the gold miners in Serra Pelada, Brazil. Both sets of photos are otherworldly.

In my youth, I had several jobs that most people would call manual labor, but it was nothing like much of the work depicted by Sebastião Salgado in this book. In these pictures the work consists of putting one's entire corporeal being into the labor; oftentimes the workers are transformed into beasts of burden. And a surprising number of them are women.

WORKERS is very handsomely produced. Many of the photographs cover a two-page spread. Others are reproduced on fold-outs, with as many as a dozen printed on a two-page fold-out. There is no text on any of the 370 pages of photographs.
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