Shadows of Pakistan

ongoing project - first preview on Photoville 2017

In January 2015, Alice went to Pakistan. She had the chance to visit Islamabad, and to travel to the outskirts of the city, to Rawalpindi, Murree and other villages around, which inhabits unregistered Afghan and internal refugees. Alice got to know about the subject, through the work of two time Pulitzer prize winner Muhammed Muheisen, who had lived and worked in Pakistan for four years. Years before the refugee crisis became an important topic in Western news outlets, Muheisen’s camera was turned to the most vulnerable group of people society knows. Today, there are 2,5 million registered Afghan refugees still in Pakistan.

Then, in 2015, Muheisen gave her the chance to join him on a journey through these slums, and to meet the children he had photographed throughout those four years. This journey was one of the most challenging, and at the same time inspiring journeys Alice had made thus far. Challenging, as the danger was very present. You could almost feel it in the air. Something which is not easy to realize, when looking at the beautiful photographs of Muheisen. But there is a true danger into working there. It asks for much dedicating to give a glimpse into the lifes of these beautiful and vulnerable children.

It was, and still is, a story that touches Alice deeply. “The hardship these people have to live through is beyond my imagination. Looking at these children; makes me smile and cry at the same time. Despite the rough circumstances of their lives, they still look at you and smile. They can find magic in every corner. One moment, young siblings give a goat parade, another moment a man with a Kalashnikov appears around the corner. There is beauty, there is danger. And I would wish with all my heart that their lives could be safer.

Alice has worked on this project throughout the past three years, having become a first time mother in the meanwhile. She noticed her feelings subtly changed throughout those years. It even became a more relevant story, looking at the news reporting the refugee crisis throughout 2016. But also for her on a personal level, it became more relevant to create hope and dreams for these children. “While seeing my daughter grow day by day, I realize we can not forget how much a young live matters, as they stand for the future”.

Using the visual language of Islam medieval miniature art, she recreates the castles and depictions of the Persian empire’s courtlife. Nowadays Pakistan was once located in the Persian empire, a flourishing culture, when we in Europe were still in our dark ages. I wonder if the wealth and stories of old times, can still echo into their contemporary situation full of hardship. There situation makes me sad. I realize, my work can never be more than a prayer, a whisper of hope. But those beautiful children, they need it the most”.