Started in 2002, when Sebastião Salgado and illy met, Scent of a dream is a photographic journey through coffee growing countries: the greatest artistic reference ever produced on the coffee world. The project is based on a shared common value: sustainable development, the fundamental principal by which the Trieste-based company is able to maintain its supreme quality.
Throughout his career, Salgado has managed to use his black and white pictures to celebrate the daily lives of those on the plantations, and the beauty of the terroir from which the precious bean is grown and harvested. The sequence of his images was constructed, shot by shot, in ten of the countries from which illy buys coffee: Brazil, India, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Colombia, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Tanzania.
With the collaboration of Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation Scent of a Dream was on Show in Venice, at the Foundation’s gallery in Piazza San Marco. The exhibition consists of a selection of 75 of the most representative images from the great maestro’s photographic journey.
Scent of a dream is also a book, curated by Lélia Wanick Salgado, the photographer's wife, where the stunning images of places and people are accompanied by the profound text provided by Andrea Illy, Luis Sepulveda, Angela Vettese and of course, Sebastião Salgado.
The incredible Scent of a Dream images will be presented beyond the Venice exhibit through an extensive tour to the public at large in 2015 that will include the Coffee Cluster curated by illy inside Expo 2015 Milan, and Trieste, to then continue on over the next three years, throughout the United States and Asia.
Salgado was born in 1944 in Minas Gerais, one of Brazil’s major coffee growing regions, he found work as an economist for the International Coffee Organization. But photography went from avocation to calling, and in 1973, Salgado started a career in images by documenting the lives of poor, migrant workers in Latin America and Africa.
The journey to Costa Rica brought Salgado from San Isidro de Alajuela in the Central Valley, to Llano Bonito, West Valley and the Tarrazu area. Here coffee growing is known for its attention to sustainability also thanks to the careful use of water resources that helps preserve the terrain and protect its important biodiversity. The coffee coming from Costa Rica is the perfect combination of acidity, sweetness, body and bitterness with uniquely distinctive notes of chocolate and caramel enhanced by delicate hints of toast, orange, honey and vanilla.
In 2014, El Salvador was Sebastiao Salgado’s first destination to discover the history, tradition and landscapes of coffee’s lands. Salgado travelled through the country, in the “fincas” of the San Vicente, Ataco, Santa Ana and Santa Tecla areas, set among the Apaneca mountains. He portrayed the precious beans coming from these plantations and the men who harvest them in the shadow of the native trees, granting the excellence and quality of the product. This coffee, grown at the foot of volcanoes and influenced by the winds coming from the Pacific Ocean, is characterized by a delicate aroma, completed by sweetness and hints of orange.
Salgado focused his camera on the province of Yunnan, located in the far southwest of the country, particularly the regions of Baoshan and Simao, the latter of which is known for the production of Pu'er tea. The coffee that comes from these areas is medium-strong bodied, with intense hints of caramel accompanied by fruity top-notes. Salgado's photographs reveal a rural landscape of stunning beauty, where hunan presence is both respectful and discreet.Salgado's China photography was given its public debut at the Galleria illy in Beijing in October 2012.
The world’s second largest washed Arabica producing region, a territory populated by small farms operated by more than 650,000 coffee producing families. Traveling from San Agustín in the south to the remote Pitalito, Salgado visited the department of Santander where the legend of the birth of Columbian coffee culture is told. Moving to Santa Marta, Sierra Nevada on the region’s Caribbean coast, Salgado trained his lens on a boisterous local market in the town of Pueblo Bello Gamake. A first viewing of the fruits of this final stage, along with a retrospective of all previous stages, was presented at a 75th birthday celebration of illy’s founding, hosted by Berlin’s International Forum for Visual Dialogue, considered a temple of international photography.
Next on the journey was a country with gloriously marked variations in landscape, reflected in the distinct characters of coffee produced region to region. Strong notes of chocolate weave a common thread throughout. Salgado committed to film images of Atitlan Antigua and surrounding regions, capturing the growth, harvesting and processing of Arabica beans, against the backdrop of wonderfully unusual landscapes. Galleria illy in Milan hosted a preview of the phase’s finished work in 2006.
The birthplace of coffee served as third home of this journey, at once, one of the world's poorest countries, and one of its largest producers of Arabica. Here Salgado trained his lens on Yirgacheffe, the region where perhaps the world’s best Arabica coffees grows. The images had their world premier in Lingotto in Turin, in 2005.
Salgado travelled to the state of Karnataka in southern India, whose plantations of Arabica coffee grace the illy blend with full body and a light, pleasant note of bitterness. Images captured between coffee plantations (in the natural shade of tall trees of tropical fruit, nutmeg, pepper and cardamom) and large indoor areas where beans are stored, chronicle the rhythm and flow of daily life on the region’s plantations. The captivating black and white images were first presented at the Chapelle de l'Humanité in Paris in 2004.
The country chosen for the journey’s first steps is the world leader in coffee productionand home to the first illy Award for Quality Coffee, now a 20-year program. From Zona da Mata in the state of Minas Gerais to the state of Espirito Santo, Salgado’s initial images reveal the rituals of green coffee harvesting, capturing the beauty of the earth and the dignity of farmers who work it. The Auditorium in Rome played host to the images’ first public viewing in 2003.