Sebastião SalgadoBrazilian (Aimorés, Brazil, 1944)
Untitled, Serra Pelada, Brazil
Since 1973 Sebastião Salgado has taken on a wide range of social issues through his photography, from the famine in the Sahel region of Africa to working conditions in South America.
One of his best-known series focuses on the Serra Pelada gold mine in Brazil, which employed 50,000 men at the time the photograph was taken. In this picture, a worker carrying a heavy load of soil emerges from the mine's immense man-made crater via a rickety ladder. In the background, other ladders form a jagged path out of the depression, and men covered in mud continue their relentless work.
The photograph is a record of the pitiful working conditions endured by these manual laborers, yet it also pays homage to the strength and determination the individual miners must possess in order to survive such circumstances.