yet another Boetti effect?

Our translation of the Arabic texts above does not substantiate the claim made in the subtext on this page. The words on the atlas are the names of countries and oceans.  The text above the map on the left wall reads: “What do my enemies do to me, I, [with] my paradise and my orchard…” And above the map on the left the text appears to read: “The Crusaders’ occupation [and the] Muslim’s initiatives”

The former quote would seem to be a version of a text attributed to Ibn Taymiyyah: “What can my enemies do to me? My paradise and garden are in my chest, and do not leave me. My imprisonment is seclusion with Allah, and my death is martyrdom, and my expulsion is tourism.” While it is said that the thoughts of Ibn Taymiyyah have been influential on contemporary fundamentalist thought in Islam, such as Wahhabism and Salafism, the murals above could hardly be seen as targeting instructions…

And Boetti? Clearly, this Mappa has nothing to do with Alighiero Boetti, but it’s a provocative thought, given the claims of contemporary writers to his influence on other aspects of Afghan culture. Relax, we won’t be claiming a connection to al-Qaeda. On the other hand, it is of interest to see how atlas images circulate within Afghanistan.

(This page is from John F. Burns and Ian Fisher (Photographs by Tyler Hicks) Histories are Mirrors: The Path of Conflict through Afghanistan and Iraq. Umbrage Editions, New York.)


Aisha Gaddafi as the mermaid sofa: from The Guardian slideshow: Sergey Ponomarer/AP

more on the prohibition of photography

…this time in Iraq. See this Mike Kamber slide show on BagNews.

Guttenfelder iPhotographs Afghanistan

These David Guttenfelder photographs for The Denver Post were taken with his iPhone. Compelling viewing. Somehow the social and political complexity of Afghanistan seems to make sense from above…

the landscape of war

There are too many ground zeros in Afghanistan… This is how the dead are buried near Kandahar.

See how Michael Yon photographs the war in Afghanistan. Despite the constraints of being embedded, his work conveys a very real sense of the human experience of the conflict. Being embedded means photography is never at the front line, and therefore it is almost impossible to reproduce the actual experience of war. The still, quiet, clean precision of the camera can only allude to the full sensorium of the war environment. In such circumstances, limited by what he can’t show the viewer, Michael has to find other subjects in order to build a complex set of visual narratives which combine to provide the stimulus for the viewer to imagine what can’t be conveyed by imagery alone. See how he finds imagery to evoke such absences.  And see how he captures the sometimes bizarre effects of the technology of contemporary warfare.

This is from his tiger-vision photographs of a medical evacuation of an Afghan casualty. Only the containers are familiar. Nothing else makes sense. The helicopter’s rotor blades light up as they churn through the dust.

Michael Yon was recently chosen by Times Online as one of the “40 bloggers who count.” Go to his site when you have a quiet moment and you’ll see why. (Images copyright Michael Yon here reproduced with permission and thanks.) Read more? Go to D.B.Grady’s biographical story about Yon in The Atlantic.