Transporting bags of dirt in the Serra Pelada gold mine by Sebastiao Salgado (1986)

The photograph titled “Transporting bags of dirt in the Serra Pelada gold mine” was captured by artist Sebastiao Salgado in Brazil, 1986. The powerful image showcases the harsh conditions of laborers in the Serra Pelada gold mine as they engage in the physically strenuous activity of transporting bags filled with dirt.

The photograph depicts a miner, stripped to the waist, carrying a heavy sack on his back. His muscles are tense and defined, showcasing the physicality of the task at hand. He seems to be climbing what appears to be a makeshift ladder created from rough wooden logs. His feet are placed precariously on the logs, hinting at the dangerous nature of the work environment.

The background of the image is a vast, open mine with numerous other miners visible both in the distance and at the periphery of the frame. Each miner is engaged in similar back-breaking labor, contributing to the overall impression of a large, communal, and grueling effort in searching for gold.

Textures of dirt and mud are evident on the subject’s skin and clothes, as well as throughout the mine, indicating the dirty and challenging conditions faced by these workers daily. The image is a black-and-white photograph, which adds to the timeless and emotionally stirring presentation of these circumstances, inviting a reflection on the human cost of such labor-intensive industries.

Other Photographs from Sebastiao Salgado

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