Opening: 20.03.2013, 19:00
Exhibition: 21.03.2013 – 20.04.2013
The exhibition “AfPak” presents two series of photographs by journalist Ulrich Ladurner, who has taken over 40 trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the last twelve years.
Ellen Dietrich, head of the photographic editorial staff of the weekly DIE ZEIT, writes about his work:
When the South Tyrol native Ulrich Ladurner starts talking at DIE ZEIT’s weekly editorial meetings, a hush settles on the room. His colleagues listen with pleasure to his astute comments. He speaks quietly, knowledgeably, in short sentences and free from arrogance and ostentation – as is often true of people who hail from mountain country. Occasionally, his forehead wrinkles with disfavor, usually because a colleague is asserting political judgments about a distant country without ever having walked its streets. Journalist Ulrich Ladurner was born in 1962 in Meran. He studied history and political science. There is a fine note in his articles and books that captures readers. Ladurner writes with reserve, never flamboyantly, calmly observing.
“Making the world of Islam graspable through stories,” is how he characterizes his journalistic passion. And he’s been gifted with a rare talent. His photography is as marvelous as his writing.
I don’t know anyone who has masters both arts so finely. More than ten years ago Ulrich Ladurner began to turn his hobby, photography, into a second carrier. I can still remember his surprise and delight when his text, accompanied by his photography, was prominently placed in our paper.
Ulrich Ladurner has traveled especially Afghanistan and Pakistan intensively and unwearyingly as a journalist and photojournalist. It’s this doubly analytical vision that characterizes his emotional, sometimes melancholy images, and makes them one-of-a-kind. And his photography has been honored with the European Newspaper Award, to no one’s surprise. Ladurner’s photography belongs among the likes of the thoughtful photographers Jerome Delay, Steve McCurry, and Justin Jin.
“He who can’t see himself through another’s eyes, is doomed to fail,“ Ladurner noted in his article “The West’s Mistakes and the Lost War in Afghanistan,” which ran in DIE ZEIT on June 22, 2011.
The archaic, male-dominated world in Afghanistan is unsettling and alienating. In word and image, Ulrich Ladurner has shed light on the everyday of the everyman, in teahouses, at bazaars, in the fields, in jail, on the streets, in harsh mountain country and isolated villages, and in Kabul. The men in turbans give the camera curious, often mistrustful, looks. Some strike menacing poses. In contrast, the foreign soldiers seem to hail from a distant planet. It remains Ulrich Ladurner’s well-kept secret how he manages to get so close to the shy women of Afghanistan and other Islamic countries. Maybe their female intuition tells them that the man behind the camera doesn’t view them pejoratively, but with respect and sympathy.
The Taliban, admittedly, hasn’t been vanquished. The drug trade is flourishing. The message in Ladurner’s images is clear: Russians, Americans, and the Europeans as well, haven’t brought the country peace, just more weapons. “It is time to release the ideological ballast that is pulling the West in the wrong direction in Afghanistan. Democracy, human rights, the rule of law? Certainly, always and everywhere. But they cannot sprout from bayonets… We should look more closely, also in the future. And we should lend our support, but not with soldiers,“ Ladurner recently wrote.
I hope my esteemed colleague won’t be angry with me when I confess that I sometimes call him “Laurence of Arabia from South Tyrol.” Not with amusement, but with great admiration.
; Hijras, IslamabadUlrich Ladurner: Born in 1962 in Merano, South Tyrol (Italy). Journalist since the late eighties. Since 1999 with the German weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT. Afghanistan and Pakistan are among the countries he has travelled extensively. He loves travelling, writing, photography – and his children above all. He has written several books, in which he tries to make the world tangible through storytelling.