Port­fo­lio

GIRL WITH GREEN SHAWL, PE­SHAWAR, 2002

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - STEVE McCURRY

WHAT fol­lows is a par­tial cat­a­logue of things you might find in Steve McCurry’s pho­to­graphs of Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush. They in­clude poppy fields, aban­doned tanks, don­keys, one-legged chil­dren on crutches, chil­dren car­ry­ing guns, a child work­ing in a foundry, chil­dren swathed in ban­dages and syruped in blood, sol­diers, moun­tains, moun­tain tribes, don­keys, a statue of Bud­dha that has all the mon­u­men­tal­ity of a Jack Kirby comic book splash page (a Bud­dha statue that has since been de­stroyed, it ought to be noted), a city of tents, cities fall­ing down, cities that have been de­stroyed. In short, im­ages of a land­scape and peo­ple that McCurry has been vis­it­ing for more than three decades, im­ages full of vi­o­lence and pain.

But what do you re­mem­ber when you look at the pho­to­graphs? You re­mem­ber the faces. Th­ese haunt­ing, haunted, some­times tor­mented faces that stare out at you in pain, and some­times, all too few times, in hope and de­fi­ance. Like this Afghan refugee caught on film in Pe­shawar in Pak­istan just across the bor­der from Afghanistan.

“This col­lec­tion,” Wil­liam Dal­rym­ple writes in the af­ter­word to the pho­tog­ra­pher’s new book, “is a tes­ta­ment to McCurry’s long­stand­ing love of Afghanistan, his sol­i­dar­ity with its peo­ple and his com­mit­ment to record­ing their won­drous beauty.”

The re­sult can some­times be hard to look at, yet equally, hard to look away from.

Afghanistan by Steve McCurry is pub­lished by Taschen, priced £59.99

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