May 27, 2016

Friday Round Up - 27th May, 2016

Exclusive to Photojournalism Now: 
This week legendary photojournalist Tim Page returns to Photojournalism Now with "Afghanistan from the Air" a series of unpublished photographs accompanied by a story written by Tim about his time in that country.

In exclusive monthly installations, Tim will showcase images from his vast archive and share his experiences with Photojournalism Now's readers.

This is a fantastic opportunity for Tim to publish work that is beyond the scope of conflict photojournalism, the genre in which he made his name.

I'm delighted to be able to feature these images and excited about the installations to come.

Tim's archive is amazing.

Just wait and see!

Alison Stieven-Taylor
May 2016

Special Feature:
AFGHANISTAN FROM THE AIR

Words and Pictures: Tim Page



Afghanistan is a brutal place, the landscape as rugged as the folk that live on a land that is only 12% arable.

It is the collision and collusion of east and west and its mountains, the Hindu Kush rise up across its entirety.

In between are sparse bits of green clinging to riversides in gorges or dusty plains.

Now and then a broad lush valley appears between ranges where war has ravaged much of the countryside over the last 40 years.

This magical land is difficult to see from its beauteous aspect, you are obliged to see devastation and dislocation, the results of a series of massive wars that have reached this frontier twixt east and west.

Where Alexander and Buddhism coursed the same valleys.

Diverse is a desultory word.

After a couple of months at the UN mission in Kabul teaching 6 young Afghan photographers, I had got to know the mission brass who invited me along on their weekly inspection trips to far flung places out of reach on dodgy roads.






 
District and provincial capitals that few folk visited much less were able to photograph.

The Chief of Mission had his own MI 18 on permanent stand by.

Both crew and chopper were vintage the Soviet war of the 80’s, both having the vibe of being fuelled on vodka.

At least they knew this desolate land.

You had to presume the antique patched white painted former war bird was airworthy.

Luckily, there usually were no more than 10 of us, so lots of room for fuel.

Even so we stopped off to top up in Bamiyan, Kandahar and points in between.

How this 40-year-old lump of obsolete technology was able to claw its way up to 5,000 metres I do not know.

We crossed mountain saddles at 4k, below a landscape akin to the moon. 







Landing out or auto-rotating would have been fatal.

Neither crew or UN personnel seemed to give it a second thought.

After a bit I got locked into the door seat with the best piece of plexiglass in the bird.

Every vista could be composed into a frame, beyond the abstract, a dreamscape of colour and geomorphology.

Impossible pastiches fluttered into view and receded.

Mountains so old and full of resources, they looked as though they were rusting.

The horizon was jagged, some of it snow capped; the higher we climbed you could see to Kyrgyzstan, almost Pakistan.

Ethereal and beyond captivating.

I couldn’t wait for future expeditions to shoot through the winter and the spring.

 









Then the Taliban assaulted a U.N. guesthouse killing 8 people (5 UN staff members, 2 Afghan security personnel, 1 Afghan civilian - 3 attackers also died) and thereby curtailing all the feel good in-country missions, including the mentoring programmes.

My gig was up.

I will remember the beauty of this remarkable place through these images.

The people are a separate homage - another essay.