Wakhan | An Other Afghanistan
The Wakhan corridor located in the northeastern corner of Afghanistan, is a less-traveled region by foreigners. French photographers Fabrice Nadjari and Cedric Houin (aka Varial) decided to journey off to the remote district because of their growing fascination with the country, further heightened by a New York Times article about the area. Being that the land is so rarely visited, the duo’s photo series titled Wakhan, An Other Afghanistan is incredibly fascinating.
The rural area, which holds about 12,000 residents on its 140-mile strip of land, is bordered by Tajikistan, Pakistan, and China, making for an eclectic blend of cultural influences. The photographers document the Wakhis’ diverse portraits against their natural landscapes. Using Impossible Project film, Nadjari and Varial took Polaroids of the people and then followed by taking shots of the villagers, many of whom had never even seen a photograph, holding their Polaroid portraits. The photographers sought to capture images, but also leave the people with souvenirs.
An interesting note about the Polaroid images is that they developed unusually, due to the high altitude of the area (about 13,000 feet above ground). The colored instant shots appear to heave undergone some sort of filtered treatment, which was in fact naturally acquired. Also, Nadjari and Varial’s creative decision to present the Polaroids in color against the larger black and white shot is really interesting and draws the viewer’s eye to the image-within-the-image.
This series, while beautifully shot, serves a greater purpose in shining a light on a lesser known people and their land. While they may live in Afghanistan, which the rest of the world associates with war and the Taliban, the Wakhan Corridor is far from the friction. This incredible series is set to be on display at Milk Gallery in New York on May 18 through May 23, 2012.
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