Salgado sees his own life as mirroring humanity's 'move into a denser urban world.' Born on a farm in rural Brazil, he studied economics in S?o Paulo before he and his wife left for Europe in 1969. As one of the era's great roving photographers, he is also the perfect example of the ultramobile modern nomad, but seeing so much brutal reality can take its toll. 'What I learned about human nature and the world we live in made me deeply apprehensive about the future,' he writes of his latest project, and 'left me wondering whether humans will ever tame their darkest instincts.'
Salgado's pessimism is somehow countered by the beauty of his photos. As such, they embody the eternal riddle of human nature, with its competing affinities for atrocity and grace. 'We hold the key to humanity's future, but for that we must understand the present,' he concludes. 'We cannot afford to look away.'