Fazal Sheikh

Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson

Most photographs take us back in time. Much rarer are those that follow us into the present with a seeming life of their own. The photos in Fazal Sheikh’s series “A Camel for the Son,” 1992–2000, and “The Victor Weeps,” 1996–98, are among the latter. The first grew out of Sheikh’s encounters with Somali families who had sought refuge in northeast Kenya after the outbreak of civil war in the early ’90s; the second out of his discovery of the three million Afghans who had similarly fled to northern Pakistan to escape the Soviet occupation, the warring mujahidin factions, or the Taliban. But Sheikh is not a documentary photographer, much less a war reporter. He has chosen to “render” (his word) the often dramatic situations at hand through eloquent portraits of the people caught up in them—portraits often made in the most rudimentary conditions imaginable: a makeshift “studio” in a feeding

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