The Shot That Almost Killed Them But The Nonsense That Always Kills Me

The narcissism is staggering. The infantile posturing simply terrifying to witness. These are the people we have sent out into the world to report on it. Confused, lost, and reduced to simply making pictures that sell, for stories that are edited thousands of miles away, it is perhaps unsurprising to see that not a single person in this list of ‘luminaries’ has anything to say about any of the communities, and conflicts they covered. These series of articles – and we see them every few weeks – perpetuate a false understanding and a false ideal. And these photographers are all willing participants in this game.  Details »

The Bagram Prisoner Campaign At Brown University’s Watson Institute

The exhibition is a purely digital one. However, it is accompanied by perhaps one of the first video interviews I have ever given – Professor Zamindar was very convincing, and only the second time I have spoken extensively about the idea behind the project called Law & Disorder: A People’s History of the Law In Pakistan. The Watson Institute website will feature the video and other information about the work in the coming days. The previous extensive interview, also done by a trusted friend, was featured on dvafoto and can be found here.

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How Alain de Botton plays safe with the news | Jonathan Cook’s Blog

Because real events in much of the world, especially the developing parts of it, reveal the ugliness of the west’s pursuit of its interests, the real job of foreign reporters is to equivocate and obfuscate – in fact, to betray the truth. “Presentation” is not concerned with clarity and generating interest, as De Botton assumes; it is designed to conceal the true goals of western foreign policy.

via How Alain de Botton plays safe with the news | Jonathan Cook’s Blog.

Jonathan Cook once again takes on this strange habit most of us have of making excuses for mainstream media’s mediocrity, but without ever confronting the real political and economic forces that explain it. Instead, there is a propensity to lay the blame on individuals and departments, and to claim that this is mostly a question of the pursuit of the market or the quick sensationalist sale.

Jonathan Cook argues instead that it is part of the plan – the obfuscations and confusions that are ingrained in the way news is reported, particularly foreign news, is part of its design. It is meant to veil the hidden hand of Western political and economic interests and instead present the world, and our actions there, under the mask of ‘human rights’ or ‘violations of international law’ or ‘asiatic despotism’ or other such legalistic or culturalist explanation.

What is erased is our involvement, and hence, our reason for the interest. At any one time there are only certain news stories, conflicts, or pathologies that capture the media’s attention. The question then is, why? What drives a certain prioritization, and what drives it away. Why Darfur at a certain time, and then why not Darfur today?

Photojournalism has kept silent on this front, choosing instead to engage in vacuous and trivial debates about social media platforms, digital cameras and other such nonsense. It has revealed itself to not be a serious journalistic enterprise by refusing to engage with the serious questions of journalism in our time. Photojournalists seem to be unaware of the role they play in the priorities and structures of imperialism, nationalism and corporation interests. In fact, with only pictures to offer, they are the perfect foils for an attempt to reduce a complex political and social issue to a series of hysterical and simplistic generalizations, whether cultural or other.

There is a debate and a discussion completely absent from photojournalism and I remain confused why this is so. There isn’t a photojournalism festival, competition, reward, community, or secret society, that seems to be prepared to take itself seriously and engage in the hard questions of power and news, politics and media, corporatization and political agendas, imperialism and capitalism etc. and how photojournalism has been a hand-maiden to it, or cab be a means of understanding and questioning it.

PND Online June 2014 Issue And My Short Piece on Hackathons…Not Mincing Any Words!

PDN Online   June 2014   Page 28 29

You can read the entire piece online by clicking on the image above, or on this link here.

The Bagram Prisoner Campaign & The Parsons School Of Design – A Exhibition May 14th – 23rd 2014

Some months ago I was approached by the designer Ammar Belal who wanted to see if I would be open to a collaboration with him. Ammar had attended a panel discussion with me, Saadia Toor, and Sarah Belal (his sister), at the Open Society in New York and seen the portraits I had made of the families of the prisoners being held at Bagram Detention Center in Bagram. Ammar was moved by the arguments we made, and affected by the stories of the families themselves. In a discussion we had soon afterwards it was clear that he had been shaken out of his world of high fashion and design and compelled to turn his attention to an injustice that he had been aware of, thanks to his sister’s work, but until then had remained unconcerned about. Details »

Not A Part Of It, Nor Safe In It – A New York City I Cannot Recognize

New York is proving to be a strange place to try to work. And for reasons I had not expected. There is an atmosphere of deep fear and suspicion that is casting a pall over the lives and communities I am working with and completely transforming the very idea I have had of this city. Over the last week I have been visiting places – communities and homes there, where I have felt as if I have left the United States of America I once recognized and arrived in a land where the citizens cow in fear, remain silent out of suspicion, constantly look over their shoulders to see who may be watching, refuse to express any opinions, and simply want to disappear. It is a post-surveillance state America and it is all around me, except that I – for the moment enjoying the privileges of a bourgeois life, have simply not noticed that there are possibly hundreds of thousands of people in the greater New York area who cannot live as carefree and as casually as I do here. Details »

Presenting “Law & Disorder” At The Hipster Hasidim Haven Of “Chulent” in Brooklyn – March 13th, 11 pm


This may possibly be my strangest presentation yet, but one I am incredibly excited about. I have been invited to speak at the Ocean Parkway Jewish Center at their Thursday night event called ‘Chulent’. Chulent refers to the Saturday food of the Jews – a stew packed with beans and meat and a favorite at Sabbath lunch because it can be cooked before sundown on Friday and kept simmering for hours on end. Chulent the party however is a gathering of the eclectic, the once purely orthodox but now willing to explore the world of ideas and spirituality and more outside of the confines of the strictly pure. Details »

The Final BitByBit Presentation – Making Photography Interactive

Our final presentation is now online thanks to the remarkable Develop Photo and the always interesting Erica McDonald. You can click on the image below or here and go to the Develop Photo site to see a video. With only 24 hours to put things together into a coherent idea we obviously had to leave many a detail aside. There were also some interface design concerns and we were unable to work through the specific details of how it should look in its final form. Kati much preferred a more intense, in-your-face style, while I was more drawn to a subtler and quieter design to highlight the image epicenters. However, we arrived at a compromise and left it at that, concentrating instead on presenting the broader concept and approach. Details »

New York University, 28th February 2014 – Re-Presenting Pakistan: Journalism, Justice & The War On Terror

NYU Panel Poster (for web)

Warscapes Magazine : Breathing Life and Death into Gods and Men by Asim Rafiqui


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