The Land of Blood and Dust

Afghanistan Every country has this kind of definable patina, a texture and a smell. If you land at Entebbe airport in Uganda, and disembark with your eyes closed, and breath in, you know you are in Africa – that’s how Africa smells. The same is true of Afghanistan, though it never surmounts the sweetness of Africa, it smells like piles of rubbish left out to rot. But the smell defines the place, as do many other attributes, including an extraordinary texture. I couldn’t photograph the smell, but in every other way I tried to create portfolios that represented Afghanistan beyond a proxy conflict marked by terrible tragedy. Photojournalists called it ‘The Land of Blood and Dust’. So I tried to photograph the ‘dust’. Everything is built from it, and everything is covered by it. This portfolio expresses in the most simple way the ‘breathing in’ of a country I grew to love, from the wonderful graffiti, ramshackle constructions using only what was available and free, to that decay that conflict and poverty decides against the will of its people.

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