Afghan-born photographer Zalmaï was forced to flee to Switzerland at the age of 15 after the 1980 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. As a freelance photographer, Zalmaï has spent years capturing the human cost of war around the world and in his home country, Afghanistan, where he also sees signs of hope. Dread and Dreams brings together photographs Zalmaï made between 2008 and 2013 against the backdrop of the 14-year US-led invasion of Afghanistan that culminated in 2014 with the withdrawal of American troops. The book presents two contrasting bodies of work. Zalmaï's epic duotone photographs reveal the stark reality of life in Afghanistan for the millions of Afghan refugees who have returned to their country since 2002, only to find they cannot go back to their homes. They are instead forced to live in squalid conditions in makeshift refugee camps and urban slums where most live on the brink of survival, and many take refuge in drugs. In counterpoint to this series, Zalmaï presents sun-tinged color photographs that reflect the hopes and dreams of the Afghan people. Here, Zalmaï takes us away from the monumental humanitarian crisis wrought by war to reveal signs of positive life force permeating his country. Empathetic, indignant but still optimistic, Zalmaï's photographs draw attention to Afghanistan's ongoing struggle, that has largely left the headlines, by focusing on the Afghan people and their lived experience of war, insecurity, chronic governmental mismanagement, corruption in a huge scale and international negligence.
Published by Aperture/UNHCR. Introduction by Khaled Hosseini.
In early 2008, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that an estimated 4.4 million Iraqis had been displaced from their homes as a result of the war. While nearly half were uprooted internally, the remaining citizens escaped to neighboring countries. The New York Times called the escalating crisis, "the largest exodus since the mass migrations associated with the creation of the state of Israel in 1948." Today, the situation of most refugees remains dire; months and years into forced flight, many are running out of money, food and the good will of their hosts. In Silent Exodus, Kabul-born, Switzerland-based photographer Zalmaï chronicles the plight of Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon; over the course of several trips in 2007, he interviewed them, collected their individual stories and photographed them in their homes, where many remain in uncertainty. Although frequently harassed by neighbors, they are still afraid to return to Iraq, given the instability and violence that lingers there. Rarely told and under-reported, this is a human story which deserves a wider audience. Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns contributes an introduction to the work.
Published by Aperture. Photographs by Zalmai Zalmai.
For more than a quarter of a century, Afghanistan has been ravaged by war, drought and famine. In this magnificent volume, Afghan-born photographer Zalmai returns home after 23 years in exile to rediscover his homeland at a crucial moment of transition. Working in rich color, and frequently using a panoramic format that embraces the vastness of the sky and sand, Zalmai immerses us in the ravaged landscape and the bustle of reconstruction. “My project tries to capture the resilience of a people who have rarely known peace, their optimism in the face of overwhelming odds and the very real worry that the country remains on a knife-edge and could easily slip back into a nightmare from which it is still trying to escape.”