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Afghan children in Saeedi’s photo
Afghan children in Saeedi’s photo

Photographs Illuminate Capacity and Resilience to Survive

Photographs Illuminate Capacity and Resilience to Survive

The 3rd edition of ‘Eyes on Main Street,’ a photo festival underway in Downtown Wilson, North Carolina, US, features a work by Iranian photojournalist Majid Saeedi, 43, among 99 other photos.
The event opened on April 8 and will run through July 16, ISNA reported.
The 100 featured photographs are displayed on 100 storefront windows, spanning six city blocks. Focusing on the theme of ‘Main Street: a Crossroad of Cultures,’ the exhibition features the work of 100 photographers from 31 countries with an equal number of men and women. 
“The photographs taken in 49 countries, not only celebrate our shared humanity, they illuminate our capacity and resilience to survive against all odds,” says co-curator Regina Monfort.
Saeedi’s featured photo shows Afghan children playing amidst the ruins of war. He has covered the Afghan conflict for more than a decade. But his interest in the country and its people extends beyond news headlines.  Since 2009 he has lived among the people and focused on telling the story of daily life in a war zone.
For the past two decades, he has documented Middle East events, focusing on humanitarian aspects and was selected seven times as the Best Photographer of the Year in Iran in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2001.
Saeedi has received numerous international awards including the 2015 Photo Reporter Festival in France, 2014 FotoEvidence Book Award in the US, 2013 World Press Photo contest in the Netherlands, the 2013 National Press Photographers Association awards, 2012 R. F. Kennedy Awards and 2011 Lucie Awards in the US, as well as 2010 UNICEF Photography Award, among others.
His photographs have been published in major publications such as Times, Der Spiegel, Life, New York Times, Washington Post and Washington Times.
In 2014, FotoEvidence, an American organization “documenting social injustice,” published Saeedi’s book’ Life in War,’ a portrait of Afghan people affected by decades of conflict.

 Beyond Death and Destruction
His motivation for looking beyond the death and destruction of war is influenced by a desire to know the people that he comes into contact with, beyond a superficial understanding.
“As a photographer I believe it is my responsibility to show how other people live their lives … a lot of us sit at home and don’t even know our neighbors. I wanted to get closer to the normal people of Afghanistan, to live with them, eat with them and talk to them. To tell their stories, which have become part of my life,” Saeedi said in an interview with Australian journalist Alison Stieven Taylor.
In Life in War, Saeedi has focused on those living with the constant threat of violence, where explosions and gunfire are part of everyday existence, and where landmines, that litter the countryside, can rip human flesh to shreds in seconds. Yet amongst the devastation and pervasive sense of danger, life goes on; couples wed, babies are born, children play and people do their best to make a living.
When you consider Afghanistan has been at war for 35 years, there is a generation who has known no other life, a terrifying statistic that marks the faces of those in Saeedi’s book.
“People don’t expect to return home every time they go out,” says Saeedi. “War is death. It is all around them but they go on living. They are living in a paradox.”
“We have seen countless images of Afghanistan, particularly images of soldiers and aid workers throughout the country, but these images don’t portray the real Afghanistan. War is not the only thing going on,” he says.

 

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