Projeto Vale Gênesis

Genesis Project

A photographic journey through
the planet’s unspoiled regions where man lives in harmony with nature. A visual tribute to the majesty and fragility of planet Earth.

Sebastião Salgado

Sebastião Salgado was born in 1944 in Aimorés, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. He graduated in economics, but then launched himself into the world of photography in 1973. He worked extensively for the international press, receiving recognition and a variety of awards for his reports on Africa. During the 90s, he and his wife, Lélia Wanick, embarked on a life project that turned out to set the foundations for his Genesis photography expedition. This involved the recuperation of a completely dilapidated building, which today is the headquarters of the Earth Institute, an institution dedicated to maintaining the forest ecosystem of the Vale do Rio Doce region in Minas Gerais. Salgado is also a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

About the project


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Veja fotografias e vídeos de Gênesis e descubra os locais das fotos e exposições
Exposição Virtual

View photos and videos of Genesis and discover the locations of photos and exhibits

Virtual exhibition

Genesis is a photography project put together over many years that focuses on the natural world. Sebastião Salgado travelled the world between 2004 and 2012, visiting 32 extreme destinations such as Alaska, Patagonia, Ethiopia and the Amazon. On this journey, he captured striking images showing the majesty and fragility of nature, as well as its relationship with humankind and the animal kingdom. Vale has been a sponsor of the project since 2008. “Genesis is all about the earth’s origins, the untouched planet, its purest regions and the traditional way of life in which man lives in harmony with nature. I want people to see our planet from another angle, to be moved and to create a closer relationship with our world,” explains Salgado.

Travelling on foot, by bus, in small boats, airplanes and even in hot air balloons, Salgado has captured giant deserts, frozen lands, icebergs, volcanoes, forests, mountain ranges and animals in their natural habitat – from penguins, sea lions and whales in Antarctica and the South Atlantic, to leopards, wildebeest and elephants in Africa. In his search for primitive peoples, he has discovered tribes with ancient customs and little or no contact with the outside world, such as those who still live in “isolation” in the Amazon and New Guinea rainforests.

In previous projects, such as Workers and Exodus, Salgado captured images of humanity’s adversaries. While the Genesis project pays tribute to nature, it also carries a warning about everything that humanity currently risks losing. He does not take a journalistic, scientific or anthropological approach, but instead that of a passionate photographer following the romantic dream of capturing nature in its prime. The entire collection is presented to the public in the form of over 250 black and white images, a book, exhibitions that will tour the world and a documentary filmed by the directors Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. Lélia Wanick is the exhibition curator and the book designer.

The roots of Genesis and of Vale’s partnership

For Vale, the Genesis Project is an exceptional artistic illustration of our company’s mission, vision and values, as well as its commitment to the integrated development of the communities where it operates around the world. The project shows that harmonious coexistence between man and nature is fundamental to the planet’s equilibrium, and plays an informative and educational function, encouraging the preservation of nature.

The roots of the Genesis Project began to take shape in the 1990s, when Sebastião Salgado and his wife, Lélia, agreed to take care of a family property in the Doce River Valley, where Sebastião had grown up surrounded by lush vegetation, birds, wild animals and rivers full of fish. But this paradise had vanished: deforestation and erosion had dried up the land.

Lélia then had the idea to recreate the forest with local species. More than 300 different types of trees were planted and, as they grew and the land became green again, the flowers and animals returned. "After a while, we saw everything being born again. The birds, insects and animals came back. Life began to return on all sides inside my head, and so the idea of photographing Genesis came to me. I went to see life, the most fabulous things on the planet.” says the artist.

In 1998 the reforested property became the Instituto Terra (“Earth Institute”), an NGO that seeks to restore the Atlantic Rainforest. In addition to sponsoring the Genesis Project since 2008, Vale also supports the Instituto Terra. We have already donated 500,000 seedlings from the Vale Nature Reserve for the institute’s reforestation actions – since it was founded, the NGO has already planted more than 2 million trees. We are also partners with the entity in a project that aims to recuperate hundreds of headwaters of the Doce River – the Olhos D´Agua program.

Take a look at our Sustainability Report and Vale’s other environment preservation initiatives.