Sharbat Gula la ragazza afgana fotografata da Steve McCurry nel 1984, oggi vive in Italia.
Sharbat Gula era allora una ragazza afgana che viveva nel campo profughi di Nasir Bagh vicino a Peshawar, Pakistan. Un anno fa è fuggita da Kabul e ha scelto l’Italia, come racconta nell’intervista realizzata da Francesca Caferri per il Venerdi di Repubblica.
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“Con la tua fama, avresti potuto andare ovunque, perchè non andare nell’America del National Geographic? Sharbat Gula scuote la testa: “In America non volevo andare”, risponde. Inutile chiederle dettagli: a questa, così come a ogni domanda sul magazine che l’ha resa famosa, preferisce non rispondere in maniera diretta.
“Ho avuto la libertà di scegliere”, ammette, “quando sono arrivati i Talebani ho capito che sarebbe stato difficile restare: sono troppo conosciuta. Diversi governi mi hanno offerto aiuto: ho scelto l’Italia. Sapevo che per l’Afghanistan avete fatto tanto.”.
Steve McCurry, recognized universally as one of today’s finest image-makers, has won many of photography’s top awards. Best known for his evocative color photography, McCurry, in the finest documentary tradition, captures the essence of human struggle and joy. Member of Magnum Photos since 1986, McCurry has searched and found the unforgettable; many of his images have become modern icons. Born in Philadelphia, McCurry graduated cum laude from the College of Arts and Architecture at the Pennsylvania State University.
After working at a newspaper for two years, he left for India to freelance. It was in India that McCurry learned to watch and wait on life. “If you wait,” he realized, “people will forget your camera and the soul will drift up into view.” His career was launched when, disguised in native garb, he crossed the Pakistan border into rebelcontrolled Afghanistan just before the Russian invasion. When he emerged, he had rolls of film sewn into his clothes and images that would be published around the world which were among the first to show the conflict there. His coverage won the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad, an award dedicated to photographers exhibiting exceptional courage and enterprise. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Magazine Photographer of the Year, awarded by the National Press Photographers’ Association.
This was the same year in which he won an unprecedented four first prizes in the World Press Photo Contest. He has won the Olivier Rebbot Memorial Award twice. Steve McCurry has covered many areas of international and civil conflict, including Burma, Sri Lanka, Beirut, Cambodia, the Philippines, the Gulf War, the former Yugoslavia, and continuing coverage of Afghanistan and Tibet. He focuses on the human consequences of war, not only showing what war impresses on the landscape, but rather, on the human face. McCurry’s work has been featured in every major magazine in the world and frequently appears in National Geographic magazine with recent articles on Tibet, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and the temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia. McCurry is driven by an innate curiosity and sense of wonder about the world and everyone in it. He has an uncanny ability to cross boundaries of language and culture to capture stories of human experience. “Most of my images are grounded in people.
I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face. I try to convey what it is like to be that person, a person caught in a broader landscape, that you could call the human condition”. A high point in his career was the rediscovery of the previously unidentified Afghan refugee girl that many have described as the most recognizable photograph in the world today.
When McCurry finally located Sharbat Gula after almost two decades, he said, “Her skin is weathered; there are wrinkles now, but she is a striking as she was all those years ago.” McCurry returned from an extended assignment in China on September 10, 2001. His coverage at Ground Zero on September 11 is a testament to the heroism and nobility of the people of New York City. “You felt the horror and immediately, instinctively understood that our lives would never be the same again.”