May 15, 2023

How do you photograph a region that has already been intensively documented over the past twenty years? This is what Magnum photographers Cristina de Middel (1975) and Lorenzo Meloni (1983) asked themselves when they set off to Afghanistan together in 2022. When the Western troops retreated in 2021, this also resulted in a diminished interest in the country in the Western media. With the Taliban repositioning themselves during De Middel and Meloni’s journey, the duo put Afghanistan in front of their lenses for the photo project ‘The Kabuler’. The photographs – powerful portraits, surrealistic landscapes, and everyday scenes – formed the point of departure for a one-off magazine entitled ‘The Kabuler’. Accompanied by essays, interviews, and stories, The Kabuler presents a nuanced image of Afghanistan, in which they have not shied away from light-hearted subjects and humour.

During their journey De Middel and Meloni challenged themselves, and each other, to step out of their comfort zones and find new ways of making their photographs, looking for inspiration in each other’s different working methods. The Kabuler follows the editorial structure of a magazine. With features like lifestyle, fashion, and gastronomy, the photographers found a unique way of portraying the status quo of the country at the time of their journey and introduce the public to the many faces of Afghanistan.

Publication 

The magazine The Kabuler is available at the Kunsthal Shop for €30, published by This Book Is True by Cristina de Middel in collaboration with Magnum Photos and Kunsthal Rotterdam.

Read more about the exhibition

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Untitled Kabul, Afghanistan, January 2022 © Lorenzo Meloni / Magnum Photos
07_Herat, Afghanistan, January 2022 © Lorenzo Meloni  Magnum Photos_LR.jpg
Former camp Zafar. A member of the Taliban poses for a portrait during a graduation ceremony of the Islamic Emirate Army inside what was a former military base of the Afghan Army Herat, Afghanistan, January 2022 © Lorenzo Meloni / Magnum Photos
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