These are images from a Darkness Visible, a body of work Seamus Murphy has created from visits to Afghanistan, the first being in 1994. The photographs are beautiful and disturbing, and despite the noise of some of the scenes, as a viewer, I experience only silence. With some images I could imagine Murphy quietly observing surroundings, and then taking photos, sometimes without uttering a word, sometimes without the subjects even realising his presence or his actions. Like the beggar woman on the stairs. Completely unaware. With other images Murphy gets up close, perhaps to close, like with the young girl with what can only be described as fright in her eyes on turning and realising the camera behind her.
I dropped Seamus an email and he swiftly replied with some information on his work out here in Afghanistan. There are a number of interesting audio visual insights which I highly recommend having a listen to. Check one out here.
When asked about using black and white in this work Murphy replied “It seemed to suit the mood and emotion of the times I was experiencing; it certainly matched my feelings … it felt right to record what I was seeing in black and white. These were epic times and despite the apparent lightness of the people, it was also a dark time of great extremes.”
So I’m inspired. Inspired to get my old canon ae1 shipped out here with some roles of black and white. Inspired to experiment with the way I photograph out here. Inspired to explore more.
This book is definitely going on my Christmas wish list.