A relative recently gave me the book National Geographic: The Photographs. This iconic image is on the front cover. Growing up, this image was famous but I never knew why, so I'm sharing my findings with you on this week's Art Snap.
Her piercing gaze through her tattered clothes, this young girl's image has become an icon of resilience. The power of photography and video are especially relevant in the digital age.
|1. Face without a story: National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry took this photo in Pakistan, at the Afghan border. This was back in 1984, during a time of conflict between Soviets and Afghanistan. Taken along with numerous other photos that day, he didn't know her name or anything else about this refugee. Later on, when he developed the film, the photo showed her amazing eyes. (National Geographic: The Photographs)|
|2. Strength: Her piercing eyes, coupled with her tattered clothes, came to represent dignity, pain, resilience, and beauty in the face of suffering and chaos. The image is also a reminder of the women and girls of Afghanistan. (Her clothes were tattered due to a cooking fire.)|
|3. Before and after: McCurry eventually found her on one of his subsequent trips, 17 years later. Her name is Sharbat Gula and she had no idea she was a global icon, or what she had come to represent. She had never been photographed before that, had not been photographed since, and has returned to anonymity. To make sure it was indeed her, National Geographic used "iris-scanning technology and face-recognition techniques used by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation."|
All images, videos, and articles are linked to their respective sources. Elements of this post were also drawn from the following: