Rome, November 25, 2021 – It has arrived in Rome Sharbat Gula, “the Afghan girl from the McCurry’s photo“, that’s how the world knows her. Her face, the intense and restless green eyes that pierce the lens, made her a planetary icon in 1985. Steve McCurry in December of the previous year he had portrayed her very young in a refugee camp in Peshawar. That shot had become the cover of the National Geographic magazine. Sharbat Gula thus became the symbol of a humanitarian tragedy, that of the Afghan refugees who fled to Pakistan after the Soviet invasion.
In response to requests from civil society and in particular from non-profit organizations operating in Afghanistan, after the events of last August, after the events of last August, the Presidency of the Council has upheld Sharbat Gula’s call for to be helped to leave their country, explains – explains Palazzo Chigi – has the . promoted and organized Handover in Italy, in the wider context of the Afghan civilian evacuation program and the government’s plan for their reception and integration.
The story of the photo
Sharbat Gula he was 12 years old when McCurry photographed her in Peshawar refugee camp in December 1984 in a tent used as a school. McCurry related that experience this way: “When I started photographing Gula, I heard and saw nothing else”. That little girl, orphaned since she was six – her parents had died during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan – had never been photographed in her life. McCurry again: “After a few minutes he got up and walked away, but for a moment everything was perfect. The light, the background, the expression in his eyes.” He’ll also say, “I knew right away that this was really the only photo I wanted to take.”
At the beginning of 2002 McCurry and National Geographic set out to find the girl at the time, who still had no name. They found it after months of searching. Sharbat’s new recording was called “Rediscovered” and appeared in the April issue of the magazine. The face is marked by time, but the eyes are the same, they stand out and never leave it. Sharbat, also known as the ‘Monna Lisa’ Afghan’, has always stated, “Afghanistan is only my hometown, but Pakistan was my homeland and I have always considered it my country.” She had five children, one died of hepatitis as did her husband. In 2016, she was arrested on charges of forging documents to live in Pakistan, a common practice for Afghans living in the country without legal status. banned and sent back to their homeland, where the government commits them a house and livelihood. After the return of the Taliban was in power, she asked for help leaving the country and Italy took action and organized the transfer.
In May, when he was interviewed about Afghanistan, the great Philadelphia photographer said: “Sooner or later in the future I will come back I’m going to see how life has changed there. In the meantime, I’m happy to help as much as I can. But there is no certainty.”
The exhibition and the invitation
The iconic photo is one of McCurry’s masterpieces ‘Icons’, the exhibition that Palazzo Sarcinelli di Conegliano dedication to the famous American photographer, open until February 13, 2022. The Mayor of Conegliano Fabio Chies upon hearing of the arrival of Sharbat, he declares: “I would be honored to to host it. We’ve been chasing McCurry’s show for a long time and it’s going great.”
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