The Steve McCurry Exposition in Birmingham – A Slightly Off-Topic Post

I’ve tried to find a way to link this post to the main subject-matter of this blog, which is, as the title indicates, international law, but so far to no avail. Maybe it’ll come to me at some point. I also thought that maybe I could link it to our secondary theme, international affairs, and although it came a bit closer, it still felt forced. So until I get a good idea on how to do this, I’ll just admit that this post is completely off-subject, but I had such a good day that I could not resist writing about it.

"Afghan Girl" at the Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery

"Afghan Girl" at the Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery

So, as the entry title indicates, I’ve spent my day in Birmingham (UK, not Alabama) to go see the current exposition of Magnum photographer Steve McCurry‘s work. Steve McCurry, if you don’t recognize the name, is famous for his picture of the “Afghan Girl” (see on the right) taken in 1984 in a refugee camp in Pakistan and published in National Geographic in – if my memory is correct – 1985. The photograph of the “Afghan Girl” is one of the best known pictures in the world, especially due to the extraordinary blue-green eyes of the girl, as well as a look that said more than words can express. Not to compare the incomparable, but when it comes to gazes, I think the “Afghan Girl” could give the Mona Lisa a run for her money.

The exposition is very nice. It’s all in one big room with McCurry’s pictures from around the globe, although he seems to have spent most of his career in Asia, and particularly Afghanistan in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. His photos are incredible. The portraits he takes, the magnificient colors that come out of his pictures… Sometimes I had to wonder if the photos hadn’t been “photoshop-ed”. But apparently not. His photos are just extraordinary in that sense.

There’s also a video on how he managed to track down the “Afghan Girl” in the 2000s, 17 years after the original picture had been taken. The movie is interesting, even though it’s very “American” in its way of exaggerating the “suspense” of his search (“Will he find her this time? Is it really her? Stay tuned after the break!” – well, no commercial break obviously in a museum, but you get the idea).

So if you are in Birmingham and have an hour to kill, I’d strongly recommend you going to see this exposition. One hour is enough to see the pictures, and the entrance is free. The Museum is in the centre, right at the end of New Street and next to the City Council building.

And I’m still looking for a way to link this post to international law/affairs in a credible manner. Hit the comments if you have an idea.

Photo of inside the Steve McCurry Exposition in Birmingham

Photo of inside the Steve McCurry Exposition in Birmingham


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  1. #1 by Daniel on 3 July 2010 - 10:08

    Why did’nt you linked it through Afghanistan? You could have compared the situation in the 1980’s to nowadays. Or via the international status of the press during armed conflicts.
    Anyway, great entry.

  2. #2 by Xavier on 3 July 2010 - 11:01

    Would have felt like a stretch: I guess I could have, but I really wanted to talk about an exposition of photographs, and there was nothing in there that gave me food for thought on legal perspectives. It is, however, rich in human perspectives, and that’s what makes this exposition so worthwhile.

  3. #3 by Melanie on 3 July 2010 - 15:33

    You could make the link through a corny conclusion : the art form is universal as it touches all, and isn’t it after all the goal of politics ? To find something universal to connect us.

    Ok, it really sucks.

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