GHOST WAR: PLAYING WITH EMPIRES / dOCUMENTA 13 - Zalmai
GHOST WAR: PLAYING WITH EMPIRES / dOCUMENTA 13
Over centuries Afghanistan has been the playground of empires, east and west, looking to reshape its independent and mystical expanse of land. These ghost wars haunt Afghanistan still, in modern times with tanks and drones, barbed wire and the fall out from superpowers.
Despite three decades of war Afghans have taken their pain and sculpted a new existence in the shadow of conflict. Billions of dollars dedicated to destruction have been the impetus for a new life force. Thousands of pieces of machinery have been broken down to formthe basis of their slow motion of recovery.
The force of destruction has lead to a rebirth, a reinvention of identity through the redefinition of war related objects. Military equipment provides a toolkit for the reinterpretation of war itself, breaching the imagery imposed by the mind, freeing the spirit.
Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Zalmaï left the country after the Soviet invasion in 1980. He traveled to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he became a Swiss citizen. Following his passion for Photography, which he discovered very early in life, Zalmaï pursued combined studies at both the School of Photography of Lausanne and at the Professional Photography Training Center of Yverdon. In 1989, he began to work as a freelance photographer, traveling around the world from Indonesia to Egypt, from Cuba to the Central African Republic, and eventually returned to Afghanistan, where he continues documenting the ongoing war and plight of the Afghan people.
Zalmaï has spent most of his life between Europe, the United States and Asia. His work has been published in several magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times Magazine, Time Magazine, Le Temps, Newsweek, and La Repubblica, while he has worked for a number of International Organizations and NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, International Committee of the Red Cross, UN Office On Drug and Crime, and the UN Refugee Agency. He has exhibited around the world at museums, galleries, universities and cultural centers and his work has earned him several international awards, the latest being the Visa D'Or from the Visa Pour l'Image International Photojournalism Festival and a grant by Getty Images.