Thursday, 19 May 2011

Burke and Norfolk

Simon Norfolk is a British photographer who has recently undertaken an extremely interesting project. He has undertaken a joint project on photographing Afghanistan and the effects of the war there with another photographer, John Burke. The unusual facet of this is that John Burke died in 1900. He had accompanied the British Expeditionary force to Afghanistan between 1878 and 1880, and taken images of the place, the people, both British and native, and the equipment used. Norfolk, who had been in Afghanistan 10 years ago, returned there and used Burkes’ images as a basis for his own, not replicating them completely , but aiming for a similar feel.
‘variations on a theme by John Burke’, to think ‘what would he photograph if he were there now?’ because he had such an inquisitive eye. So it was more kind of using him as a guide book, like  Lonely Planet Kabul 1880 edition’  (interview with Simon Norfolk for the magazine Don’t Panic.).
The book is a very beautiful production with photographs by both intermingled.It is divided into 3 sections, the place, the people and the military (although they are not directly called that).

Sha Shaid , The Bala Hissar Gate. John Burke.

Jaw Akar Faizal Nahman and his daughter. Simon Norfolk.

Landholders and Laborers. John Burke.

A De-mining Team form the Mine Detection Centre, Kabul. Simon Norfolk.
and my personal favourite

Timur Shar's Mosque.

The book gives a fascinating glimpse into the Afghanistan of the past, and as it is now, there are probably more similarities than differences, in spite of the high rises and modern vehicles. The mountains still overshadow all, the land is as harsh and the people are as proud.

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