Afghanistan - Between War And Peace
2006 professional winner
Gardi documented Afghanistan, a nation shattered by wars, droughts and earthquakes, looking for signs of stability amid an uneasy peace.
Balazs Gardi, from Budapest, Hungary, has been a freelance photographer since August, 2003, when he left the staff of the largest Hungarian national daily newspaper, Nepszabadsag, where he had worked since 1996. He was a staff photographer at Nepszava for a year before that.
He studied in the Budapest School of Photography from 1993-1995 and in the School of Photojournalism of the Association of Hungarian Journalists in 1995-1996. He studied for a term at Cardiff University School of Journalism and Media and Cultural Studies in Wales with a grant from Reuters Foundation in 2000. That year he was chosen for a World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and he was a finalist for the W. Eugene Smith Award.
He has been selected Photographer of the Year in Hungary three times — in 1999, 2000, and 2002. He was named one of PDN's "30 under 30" in 2002.
Gardi is a board member of the Association of Hungarian Press Photographers, member of the Association of Hungarian Journalists and the Association of Hungarian Photographic Artists.
Thunderstorm above Kabul. Balazs Gardi/Alexia Foundation
Afghan men sit in a tea house in Bamyan on October 14, 2004. A nation shattered by wars, droughts, and earthquakes looks for signs of stability amid an uneasy peace. The country held its first-ever direct presidential election that was also a major test of the U.S.-led nation-building efforts since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban. Balazs Gardi/Alexia Foundation
Young Afghan girls look out the window from their classroom in Manogai village, East Afghanistan. More than a third of Afghanistan's 5 million schoolchildren are now girls, compared with practically none in early 1992. The repressive Taliban regime banned the education of girls. They began to trickle back to classrooms only after the US-supported Northern Alliance ousted the regime in 2001. Despite significant progress having been made since then, UNICEF said that the main impediments to girls at school included resource issues, like a lack of female teachers and inadequate school facilities, along with some socio-cultural factors hampering the process. Schools in the country remain segregated by gender and boys have to be taught be men and girls by female teachers. There are currently 1,350 girls' schools, along with 2,900 other institutions that hold split sessions, with girls-only classes in the afternoon. Balazs Gardi/Alexia Foundation
Men are walking in the centre of Pol-e Khumri on a relatively peaceful Friday afternoon. Most men are heading for the weekly traditional Afghan wrestling event. Only a few minutes later many of these men nearly stone a “strongman” and his helpers to death, in their spontaneous outrage, when the performers fail to complete their announced show. Balazs Gardi/Alexia Foundation
Afghan men watch a dogfight during the weekend in Kabul. Balazs Gardi/Alexia Foundation
An Afghan boy begs on the streets of Kabul. Afghanistan has no social security system, and young, elderly and disabled people begging on the streets are a regular sight. While many are in genuine need, many more employ cynical tactics to prick the consciences of passers-by. Balazs Gardi/Alexia Foundation
Afghan men gather to watch a cock fight on a Friday afternoon in Mazar-e Sharif. Balazs Gardi/Alexia Foundation
A homeless man smokes heroin in an abandoned building in Balkh city, North Afghanistan. The drug problem in the country is not getting better; it’s getting worse. Afghanistan still produces nearly all of the world’s opium, helping fund terrorism all over the world. Balazs Gardi/Alexia Foundation
A Pasthun man leads the young to the mosque in a tiny village in the Korngall Valley, Kunar Province, East Afghanistan. Balazs Gardi/Alexia Foundation
An Afghan man stands in front of the mirror in a Hamam, a traditional Afghan bath house, on a Friday morning. Most of the people in Kabul could wash themselves only once a week cause their houses have neither a bathroom nor running water. Balazs Gardi/Alexia Foundation