Delfina Foundation

Exhibition: KHRP

12/12/07

Ed Kashi, Zbigniew Kosc, Susan meiselas, Patrick Robert, Olivia Arthur, Olivia Heussler, Eddy van Wessel, Tom Carrigan, Kevin McKiernan


The land known as Kurdistan presently comprises parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Armenia. It is a land of stark beauty but also one engulfed in conflict.

The works exhibited as part of KHRP exemplified the recurring tension between the photographer’s need to “objectively” document, record histories and the overwhelming urge to capture, above the political and ideological, the land of sheer beauty and majesty that is the Kurdish region. The unsettled relationship between fine art and documentary, and the role of the photographer in shifting the boundaries between these clearly established genres, is highlighted by the nature of the Kurdish experience: how can one photograph this land without conjuring reminiscences of the Kurdish narrative of struggle and resistance, from Saddam Hussein’s Anfal Campaign to the street of Halabja?

How to represent a collective narrative punctuated by war without overlooking personal experiences, and reducing them to the status of cultural, or political victims?

Time and time again Kurdish intellectuals, artists and ordinary people have stated how they do not wish to be defined merely by the narrative of struggle and resistance. They refuse to be bound by the prison wall, the statute book, or even the human rights report, challenging to the documentary photographer to negociate the balance between the personal and the political, in each of his/her snapshots.

This exhibition was accompanied by a book, jointly published by the Kurdish Human Rights Project and Delfina Foundation in 2008.