Broken Songlines

In the Middle East and the Caucasus, in Asia and in Africa, the land of exiles, along the borders of Europe, the richness of complexity is disappearing before our eyes, in those lands where for millennia the people have shared saints, gestures, symbols, myths, songs and gods. The Christians of Pakistan, the Sufi masters of Ethiopia and Iran, the Afghan Shamans, the last pagans of the Hindu Kush and the Urals, the Tibetan nomads, the Gnostic sects of the Zagros mountains are the last oases of encounters between faiths, free zones besieged by armed fanaticisms, lost homelands of today’s fugitives. These are places where the gods often speak the same lingua franca, and where, behind the monotheisms, appear signs, presences, gestures, dances and looks. I travel between the spiritual boundaries, at the crossroads of the forgotten kingdoms, where the faiths and traditions of the weakest and most defenceless sparkle, with their fragile and helpless resistance, their capacity for dialogue and encounter. I was there with the nomads, the fleeing minorities, the pilgrims looking for beauty even in the most terrible places – solidarity in war. Here faith and the placing of bombs are living side by side. The cracks in the theory of the so-called clash of civilizations, where the gods seem at war with each other, evoked by presidents, terrorists and bandits. The centre of my research is the body, the keystone and the apple of discord in religions. Created and blessed, revealed and covered, feared and repressed, protected and judged, untouchable and impure, trapped in violence that generates violence, body-relic, martyr body, body-trap, body-bomb. I love to think of the body as a temple, a body that contains the secret of collective memory, a body that does not lie. The sacred speaks through the body. It pierces it. In the archaism of gestures, we read the arcane wisdom of the people, the search for liberation through the wise use of the senses.

Tibet

Pakistan

Afghanistan

Caucasia

Iran

The Eye of Photography

Leonian Award of W. Eugene Smith grant in Humanistic Photography (video)

Pulitzer Center conference Beyond Religion Washington 8th June 2019

An Outsider’s Perspective. Documenting Endangered Rituals Around the World. VQR Online  December 2019