Louie Palu Photographs Kandahar

Afghan boys play on swings in Dand District South of Kandahar City, Afghanistan. In 2009, this district teetered on the verge of collapse as insurgents operated freely, intimidating and terrorizing the local population and government officials. Although it is not completely secure, a long term counterinsurgency (COIN) operation implemented by Canadians turned the area around. © Louie Palu/ZUMA Press/Alexia Foundation

Afghan boys play on swings in Dand District South of Kandahar City, Afghanistan. In 2009, this district teetered on the verge of collapse as insurgents operated freely, intimidating and terrorizing the local population and government officials. Although it is not completely secure, a long term counterinsurgency (COIN) operation implemented by Canadians turned the area around. © Louie Palu/ZUMA Press/Alexia Foundation

In the work “Kandahar,” Louie Palu used his 2010 Professional Grant to introduce us to the crossroads of Asia, a place which has been in conflict for thousands of years, and the center of the current Afghan insurgency.

Kandahar was a place he’d traveled before, as a photojournalist for Toronto’s Globe and Mail. He felt compelled to return there to in order to tell a complete story of a people and a war. He believes that understanding the land and the people will provide the answers to finding a path to a stable Afghanistan, moreso than studying the insurgency and methods of warfare. The Alexia Grant was one of the ways he was able to do this.

Understanding the land and the people will provide the answers to finding a path to a stable Afghanistan

As Louie explained to us in a recent interview, he wanted to truly document the city, apart from an embed. He grew his beard and moved around the city. He had daily tea with several Afghan commanders who told him stories about how they defeated the Russians. He was able to capture a wondrous city.

Louie produced two projects while in Kandahar. The first was on the people amidst the war. They are images of life in black and white featured on our website. They were taken with a discreet toy camera so that he could record without drawing attention to himself. The second set are color images on the brutality of war. Louie spent a significant period of time with a medieval team, capturing the aftermath of attacks, mines and warfare. We will be featuring these images on Louie’s project page in the coming months.

Louie’s work on Afghanistan has been featured in numerous exhibits and museums throughout Canada and the US, including the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The National Portrait Gallery, The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, and many more.

Louie will be one of three speakers in the upcoming event at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School remembering those lost in the tragic bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. All are invited to attend this free event.

The Alexia Foundation supports our grantees to produce stories and images that drive change. See previous photos of the day here.

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