It was like his 1995 photograph of the railroad station in Bombay where a train had just pulled up: crowds of people anxious to get in.
Only this was Wheeler Auditorium on the campus of UC Berkeley Monday night. More than 1,000 people waited for hours to hear Sebastiao Salgado, an award-winning photojournalist whose collection “Migration” is on exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum until March 24.
His sobering photographs of Rwandan refugees walking past bodies strewn along the road and Brazilian peasants seizing land have inspired a devoted worldwide following. The Brazilian-born Salgado spent six years traveling in 40 countries to capture the faces of the thousands crisscrossing the Third World.
About 500 of the people standing in the lines that snaked around the hallways made it into Wheeler Auditorium. Another 100 filled three rooms upstairs where live video feeds were set up. The rest had to go home. Around 7:45 p.m., the UC Berkeley police showed up to clear out loiterers.
The organizers didn’t expect so many to show up. Mike Hahn, a marketing intern at the Berkeley Art Museum, said that they had expected maybe 500 people to come.
“This was not good planning,” he admitted.
The good news is that there is another Salgado event. Tonight, Salgado will participate in a panel discussion in the Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall, at 4 p.m.
The lecture will also be Webcasted on media.berkeley.edu.
Organizers tried to appease the grumbling crowds that lingered after the doors to the auditorium had closed. They had handed out 100 free tickets to the screening, but were mobbed by outstretched hands.
The hundreds who had to leave with nothing were very disappointed. Some who had been standing in line since 6 p.m. did not make it into the auditorium or get tickets to the movie. One woman came all the way from Sacramento and complained about having to wait hours for her husband to pick her up.
Daffodil Anjemi had come from Burlingame to see Salgado. When she arrived in Berkeley at 7 p.m., she said it was “mayhem.”
When she went upstairs to the extra rooms, she could not fit into them either.
She sighed. “I’ve been following him since I saw his exhibit in Madrid last year.”