The Malta Independent 8 December 2021, Wednesday

McCurry’s ‘Afghan Girl’ exhibited at St James

Malta Independent Wednesday, 13 June 2012, 00:00 Last update: about 9 years ago

St James Cavalier is hosting a photographic exhibition of the world renowned photojournalist Steve McCurry, whose works include the ‘Afghan girl’, featured on the cover of the June 1985 issue of the National Geographic magazine.

The exhibition entitled ‘Odyssey’ which is being organised by Eman Pulis with the support of the American Embassy, will run until 24 June with the opportunity of meeting Mr McCurry on 19 June on special request.

The ‘Afghan girl’, whose identity is Sharbat Gula, was photographed in a Pakistani refugee camp in December 1984 during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan when she was approximately 12 years old. She was formally identified almost 20 years later in early 2002 after the fall of the Taliban regime. The photograph has been likened to Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the ‘Mona Lisa’ and is sometimes popularly referred to as ‘the Afghan Mona Lisa’.

Steve McCurry was born on 23 April 1950 in Philadelphia and attended Penn State University. He originally planned to study cinematography and filmmaking, but ended up getting a degree in theatre arts and graduating in 1974. He became interested in photography when he started taking pictures for the Penn State newspaper The Daily Collegian.

After working at Today’s Post in Pennsylvania for two years, he left for India to freelance. It was here that McCurry learned to watch and wait on life. “If you wait,” he realised, “people will forget your camera and the soul will drift up into view”.

His career was launched when, disguised in native garb, he crossed the Pakistan border into rebel-controlled areas of Afghanistan just before the Soviet invasion. When he emerged, he had rolls of film sewn into his clothes. Those images, which were published around the world, were among the first to show the conflict. His coverage won the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad, an award dedicated to photographers exhibiting exceptional courage and enterprise.

McCurry focuses on the human consequences of war, not only showing what war impresses on the landscape, but rather, on the human face. He covered several armed conflicts, including the Iran-Iraq War, the Lebanon civil war, the Cambodian civil war, the Islamic insurgency in the Philippines, the Gulf War and the Afghan civil war. His work has been featured worldwide in magazines and he is a frequent contributor to National Geographic. He has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1986. His collections also include the dramatic events in New York of 11 September 2001.

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Magazine Photographer of the Year, awarded by the National Press Photographers Association. The same year, he won an unprecedented four first-place prizes in the World Press Photo contest.

Steve McCurry is portrayed in a TV documentary The Face of the Human Condition (2003) by French award-winning filmmaker Denis Delestrac.

The Malta Arts Fund, Malta Tourism Authority and are the main sponsors of the event. More information on the exhibition can be obtained via email from [email protected]

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