Freitag, 20. April 2012

An Afghan Pulitzer Prize Winner

On Tuesday, Massoud Hossaini, 30, a friend and former collegue with one of the Kabul based media NGOs, has won the Pulitzer Prize for 'breaking news photography'.
He is the first Afghan ever to win this prestigeous award.
Hossaini, according to the Pulitzer committee, won the prize "for his heartbreaking image of a girl crying in fear after a suicide bomber's attack at a crowded shrine in Kabul.“ The AFP photograph published 7 December 2011, shows a young girl, Tarana Akbari, screaming after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in a crowd at the Abul Fazel Shrine in Kabul on 6 December. Massoud was slightly injured by flying shrapnel while taking the picture. The background story of the picture is here. One of a series of galleries of his photos is here

Having witnessed how, in a few years, Massoud has matured from a student of photography to a successful professional in his job, the prize for me not only honours his own work but also symbolically stands for the many young Afghan photojournalists, male and female, I've met throughout the past years and who with persistance and talent have portrayed the horror and hardships, but also – and to a larger extent than most of their foreign counterparts – the beauty, poetry and warmth of Afghan daily life.
Those of us who have worked in Afghanistan in daily news coverage know that it needs courage to go out to the scenes of bomb blasts and suicide attacks again and again to report. There is the risk of the second wave detonations, the physical confrontation also with the place of the incident. A blog Massoud wrote mostly during 2010/2011 reflects this pretty well, with all its traumatizing side aspects he occasionally refers to.
Massoud has been working with the AFP office in Kabul since 2007, relentlessly. Very often he would not take week-ends or work additional shifts.
In 2008 I had curated an photo exhibition with him and other photographers on Afghanistan in Germany with assistance of the Heinrich-Böll Foundation.
We had been trying to select a series of pictures that would try and portray the other side of Afghanistan. Massoud, like other talented Afghan photographers I have met, was carrying a relative frustration at that time about what and why certain pictures about his country made it to the news in the international media and others not: "There are so many images of Afghanistan that the Western media would never show. Lots of them include pictures of normal, daily life".
Massoud has a great sense of humour. It mixes with realism when he says: „I was born in the wrong place: Afghanistan. I grew up in the wrong place: Iran. And I am currently living in the wrong place: Kabul. But let's see what will happen next.“ See also at Afghan Analysts Network