237.130_A2_W5_TASK 4_Blog post


Curry, Steve. Sharbat Gula. Digital image. Steve Curry. National Geographic, Dec. 1984. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.

Steve Curry’s “Afghan Girl” was photographed at Nasir Bagh refugee camp, Peshawar, Pakistan, 1984. She became the iconic front cover of National Geographic in June 1985. The photo was taken with Kodachrome 64 color slide film and a Nikon. The contrast in the vibrant colours draws the eye in, Gula’s green background reinforces the power in her eyes framed with earthy terracotta.

Originally Gula’s named was unknown, for 17 years she was the “Afghan Girl” with no identity. After many unsuccessful attempts to locate her, Curry in January 2002 inspired by the closure of Nasir Bagh, inquired the few remaining refugees. With luck, they managed to track her down in a remote village at the age of 30, before then she had never seen the 1984 image.

Her identity has bridged herself with our western world. The genre of portrait photography is an expressive form. Here it is no different, Gula’s tattered head scarf and terror filled eyes reflect her past and her inner thoughts. In the first photograph taken by Curry, Gula hides away behind her head scarf and hands but is then instructed to let curry take a photo of her by her teacher. Upon seeing her first camera that day, Gula recalls feeling angry that a stranger was photographing her as traditionally girls were hidden, they were not supposed to have an identity to anyone but their family and husbands.

As Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright said photography records a moment of “fleeting emotion”, it holds evidence of Gula’s existence and life in a place so desolate. Much like Manet’s “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère”, Gula’s gender holds preconceived notions of arranged marriage and availability in her culture and society. This image still holds importance to this day 32 years later as the war still rages on, her identity and story is now a symbol of strength.

Works cited

“Afghan Girl.” Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.

Curry, Steve. Sharbat Gula. Digital image. Steve Curry. National Geographic, Dec. 1984. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.

Sawh, Kishore. “‘Afghan Girl’ | The Story & Gear Behind One Of The Most Famous Portraits.” SLR Lounge RSS. N.p., 29 July 2015. Web. 04 May 2016.

237.130_A2_W5_TASK 4_Blog post

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