Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado wins German book trade Peace Prize | Arts | DW | 18.06.2019
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Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado wins German book trade Peace Prize

The prestigious Peace Prize of the German Book Trade has been awarded to 75-year-old Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado for raising awareness about environmental destruction and the climate crisis.

The social documentary photographer and photojournalist Sebastiao Salgado's images have lent urgency to the global debate on nature and climate protection, the jury of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade said on Tuesday in Berlin.

In addition to his photography that documents the victims of climate change, Salgado was honored for his conservation work, with his Instituto Terra created in the late 1990s to directly revive biodiversity and ecosystems, beginning with vast reforestation efforts in his native Brazil. 

Read moreArt connecting the Amazon rainforest and Greenland's glaciers

Sebastiao Salgado Waura-Indigene am Piulaga-See (Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas Images)

"Waura people fishing in the Piulaga Lake": Salgado also captures humanity in harmony with nature in his native Brazil

Climate crusader

The prize, which is worth €25,000 ($28,000), is awarded for contributions to literature, science or art in support of peace. This is the first time that a photographer has received it since it was established in 1950 by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels), the official representative of publishing houses and bookshops in Germany.

The jury described Salgado as an artist "who works for social justice and peace through his photographs and who lends urgency to the global debate on nature and protecting the climate."

His monochrome photography shows people displaced by war or climate crisis disasters, as well as those rooted in their natural environment, making "the defiled earth equally as visible ... as its fragile beauty."

Watch video 05:50

Beautiful but endangered

'Salt of the earth'

Salgado grew up on a cattle ranch in Minas Gerais, which he has turned into a conservation area and reforested over the last 20 years. He was forced to emigrate on account of his opposition to the military dictatorship in Brazil, moving to Paris in 1969, where he has lived with his wife Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado, and where he began photography in 1973.

His extensive photo essays published as books include Workers: an archaeology of the industrial age (1993), and Migrations: humanity in transition (2000), among many others.

Salgado's work has been celebrated in the Wim Wenders 2014 documentary film, The Salt of the Earth (2014), which was honored at the Cannes Film Festival.

The German book trade Peace Prize was jointly won in 2018 by Aleida Assmann, a 71-year-old literary scholar and her 80-year-old husband, Jan, an Egyptologist. This year's award ceremony will again take place at the conclusion of the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 20 in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt.

Read moreGermany book trade Peace Prize winners slam the AfD 

sb/eg (dpa, AFP, KNA) 

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