28 April 2009

Photos reveal many faces on Mujahideen Day

The caterwaul from outside makes it hard to concentrate but so does jumping from this journal to my blog to Afghan, Kyrgyz and U.S. news sites, while listening to Greg Osby (Invisible Hand) and answering email, some which remind me of the lesson planning I am avoiding.

But after all it is Mujahideen Day, which acknowledges the Islamic “holy warriors” victory over the Soviet- backed regime in Afghanistan in 1992, and the university is shut down, largely because of the possibility of violence and disruption. One year ago today, the Taliban made a brazen attempt m on the life of Pres. Hamid Karzai—his fourth—during ceremonies in Kabul. He was unscathed but three people were killed.

Earlier today I attended a talk and slide show by photographer Steve McCurry, who is responsible for the “Afghan girl” that appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985. His portrait of open-eyed Sharbat Gula taken in a refugee camp in Pakistan has since become one of the most recognizable photographs on the planet.

McCurry, bookish-looking and closing in on 60, has been a Nat Geo photographer for 30 years and admits he took up photography as means to satisfy his desire to travel. He maintains a home in New York City but figures he is outside the States nine months of the year. He has been to 10 different countries thus far in 2009, shooting for the magazine, doing commercial jobs, and attending exhibitions of his work, he told his audience at the U.S. Embassy. His career began covering the Soviet war and despite traveling the world, “Afghanistan keeps drawing me back.” He estimates he has taken between 800,000 and a million photo images.

An exhibit of McCurry’s photographs is currently on display at the Barbur Gardens in Kabul. His online galley is accessible at http://www.stevemccurry.com/.

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