"He leans against a car outside the hotel to smoke a last cigarette. His transport arrives and he departs for the airport. Minutes later the car he unwittingly leant against explodes, devastating the front of his hotel" Internationally renowned Iranian photo-journalist Majid Saeedi has spent more than ten years photographing in Afghanistan. His extraordinary record of everyday life there has won him prestigious international awards, including a World Press Photo Award and exhibitions around the globe.
Now, for the first time, a collection of these remarkable photographs has been seen in Britain in exhibition at the Creative Hinckley Gallery, Charnwood Museum and the Leicester Wellington Street Adult Education Centre in Leicestershire. This moving and thought-provoking international exhibition has been organised by Charnwood Arts as part of their Pixel and Grain photography programme.
Majid Saeedi's work in Afghanistan was originally by assignment but, after being barred from working in Iran in 2009, he relocated to Kabul.
His work, in contrast to many foreign photojournalists, is embedded in the lives of the people of Afghanistan. In an interview for PhotoEvidence he said: “The most important thing for a photographer, I think, is to live with the people as they live. To experience life as the people experience it. I reached that in Afghanistan. I was living with the people.”
The director of UK based Charnwood Arts, Kevin Ryan, himself a photographer, met Majid Saeedi at a photo-festival they were both exhibiting at in Pomerico, Italy. He became aware that Majid had never exhibited in the UK. “I was surprised that a photographer of Majid’s standing had never been seen here and was determined at some point that we should rectify that. He is a photographic master of his age but more than that, as a community arts organization we understand and share his concern for the young Afghan people we work amongst.”
“Charnwood Arts has worked with many young people who have arrived in the UK seeking asylum from Afghanistan and has supported the work of others who have helped them. On reaching 18 years old, many are allowed to stay but equally many are sent back to face uncertain futures”.
“I hope this exhibition will give insight into the lives these young people have escaped from and that many are forced to return to. They are remarkable young people.” In the words of Majid Saeedi: “People don’t expect to return home every time they go out. War is death. It is all around them but they go on living. This is a paradox. Life in War. They are in a paradox. Nobody should live in a war but they do.”