Afghanistan: Chronotopia: Landscapes of the Destruction of Afghanistan

Overview

Afghanistan has been ravaged by war for more than twenty years; the Soviet Union, the Mujaheddin, the Taliban and the United States have all played their part. Norfolk’s powerfully beautiful images reveal utter devastation on a vast and overwhelming scale. Afghanistan is unique, utterly unlike any other war-ravaged landscape. In Bosnia, Dresden or the Somme, for example, the devastation appears to have taken place within one period, inflicted by a small gamut of weaponry. However, the sheer length of the war in ...

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Overview

Afghanistan has been ravaged by war for more than twenty years; the Soviet Union, the Mujaheddin, the Taliban and the United States have all played their part. Norfolk’s powerfully beautiful images reveal utter devastation on a vast and overwhelming scale. Afghanistan is unique, utterly unlike any other war-ravaged landscape. In Bosnia, Dresden or the Somme, for example, the devastation appears to have taken place within one period, inflicted by a small gamut of weaponry. However, the sheer length of the war in Afghanistan, now in its 24th year, means the ruins have a bizarre layering; different moments of destruction lying like sedimentary strata on top of each other.

Afghanistan won the Leica-sponsored European Publishers Award for Photography 2002.

An exhibition began its US tour in late 2002.

Simon Norfolk worked as a photojournalist through the early ’90s on projects relating to fascism, the far-right, anti-rascism issues and Northern Ireland. He was assigned to eastern Europe at the fall of the Berlin Wall and covered the Gulf War. In the mid ’90s he turned to landscape photography, working for four years on his book For Most Of It I Have No Words: Genocide, Landscape, Memory. This was published to wide acclaim including praise from the novelist Anne Michaels and Louise Arbour, Chief Prosecutor of the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781899235544
  • Publisher: Lewis, Dewi Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/1/2003
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 11.90 (w) x 12.80 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Winner of the 2002 European Publishers' Award for Photography, Simon Norfolk won the Olivier Rebbot Award in 2003 and was short-listed for the CitiBank Prize. In 2004 he received a prestigious International Centre of Photography Infinity Award, and the Terence Donovan from the Royal Photographic Society.

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  • Posted June 21, 2009

    Superb photography that must be seen, now, tomorrow, yesterday.

    If you don't know Simon Norfolk's work, this wouldn't be a bad place to start. Though it may sound hyperbolic, I would say with certainty that to date this is the most important visual study produced around the subject of contemporary Afghanistan. The approach taken and the final images produced in this series demand a level of intellectual provocation that is unmatched by any other photographer working around the subject(s) of Afghanistan, war, destruction and Imperialism. This is not photojournalism but visual study, less a cheap appeal to human emotions and more an in depth analysis of humanity, perhaps at its worst. Norfolk treads deep, discarding the kitsch visual narrative that has become the western interpretation of Afghanistan. Though some may argue that his gaze is cold, removed, it is my opinion that this body of work offers a far more empathetic monument to the suffering of the people of Afghanistan than any other currently available. These images will stay with you and not because you've been trained to process them but because you haven't.

    The only downside to this particular edition is that the actual book itself is completely unspectacular. I would have much preferred to buy a higher quality edition that didn't feel so generic. I got more from this body of work as a book than via the web but, for sure, the physical book itself is a bit disappointing. Luckily, the images are so strong that you probably won't notice.

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