16 November 2021 - Italy

Sebastião Salgado's photograph of the Nenets of Siberia auctioned for Save the Children hunger appeal

 NENET NOMADS SIBERIA, RUSSIA, 2011 © Sebastião Salgado

Nenet nomads, Siberia, Russia 2011 © Sebastião Salgado.

Renowned Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado has donated a photograph depicting the Nenets tribespeople of northern arctic Russia to Save the Children’s fundraising appeal supporting millions of children now on the brink of starvation.

From 17 to 24 November the auction house Sotheby's, in collaboration with the Contrasto photography agency, will auction the work "Nenets Nomads Siberia”.  

Proceeds from the sale will go to the charity’s global hunger crisis appeal launched earlier this year, with COVID-19, conflict, and climate change having created the most serious food emergency of the 21st century. Research shows that up to 45 million people are facing 'crisis' or 'emergency' levels of food insecurity and some 5.7 million children under five are on the brink of hunger—more than 50% more than in 2019.

Salgado’s work represents the Nenets, an Indigenous population of around 42,000 people living in the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region in the northern Siberian region of Russia. The Nenets’ culture and way of life is defined by reindeer but they have not been protected from political and environmental changes.

In some areas, the development of oil and gas fields is damaging the reindeer's grazing lands. Climate change is also affecting the Nenets as they can only cross certain areas of the Arctic Circle when frozen, and melting ice is reducing the duration of winter.

Salgado's donation takes place on the occasion of the exhibition Amazônia, produced by MAXXI in collaboration with Contrasto and curated by Lélia Wanick-Salgado, which was launched in Rome on 1 October and runs until 13 February 2022.

Salgado, 77, worked as an economist for the International Coffee Organisation before moving to Paris in 1973 to pursue a career in photography. He worked as a freelancer before setting up the Amazonas Images agency and traveling extensively to cover the Indigenous people and farmers of Latin America, then the famine in Africa in the mid-1980s

The photographer's last work is Amazônia, a project that lasted six years, during which Salgado photographed the Amazon forest, the rivers, the mountains and the people who live there, recording the immense power of nature in those places and capturing their fragility at the same time.

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A copy of the photo can be found here.