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BBC Wales's arts correspondent Jon Gower
"The exhibition dismantles the stereotypical image of incoming mortars"
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Monday, 7 August, 2000, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Photographer brings conflict into focus
Copyright photograph, Chris Steele-Perkins/Magnum photos
An image by Chris Steele-Perkins for Magnum Photos
Leading professional photographer Chris Steele-Perkins is the focus of an exhibition about war-torn Afghanistan in Cardiff.

The Magnum agency photographer's work on show at Ffotogallery - Notes from Afghanistan - shows another side to the society under the Taliban regime.

Steele-Perkins images show a society living alongside the ravages of years of turbulence.

The traditional black and white prints capture a society largely unchanged by from its traditional roots.

He has brought together a much more complex picture of the Afghan people and how they live their lives

Chris Coppok, director Ffotogallery
The photographer was also keen to emphasise the warmth and humanity of the Afghan people.

"It was night time and we were wondering where on earth we were going to stay and if there would be another earthquake that night," he told BBC Wales.

"We chose a hill that had not fallen down and we saw an old fella with his wife with a tent on the hill.

"We told him we would be camped on the other side.

"Five minutes later he came out with a carpet he had salvaged from his home for us to lie on, then he comes back with some bread and tea.

"This guy had nothing, he had lost his home and everything."

Chris Coppok, director of Ffotogallery, said Steele-Perkins had created a broad and colourful picture of the country and its people.

'Vitality of people'

"I think Chris was very keen to demonstrate that the war in Afghanistan - while it is the major event there being reported - only effects 5-10 per cent of the population.

"What he has done in this exhibition is bring together a much more complex picture of the people and how they live their lives, with the war there in the background."

He added: "Clearly, he is interested in showing a picture of the vitaility of the people."

Steele-Perkins joined Magnum at the end of the Seventies and soon began working extensively in the Third World.

Since completing his latest project on Afghanistan, he has begun working extensively in Japan.

His reportages have received high public acclaim and have won several awards, including the Tom Hopkinson Prize for British Photojournalism (1988), the Oscar Barnack Prize (1988) and the Robert Capa Gold Medal (1989).

  • Notes from Afghanistan by Chris Steele-Perkins is on show at Ffotogallery, Cardiff, until 2 September.
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