Before There Was iPhone: Before There was iPhone, Part 2
While working for a non-governmental organization in Afghanistan in the spring of 2006, I again used the Sony Ericsson P910 as a way to tell a story. The project is called "Circle Vision: images from inside the burqa." Sometimes I show it as a slideshow, accompanied by a recording of James Brown singing "This is a Man's World." You should try it. This is the statement I wrote for the work:
"Circle Vision " is a personal reportage made with a cellphone camera which explores the boundaries of restrictions -- restrictions on women in Afghanistan, restrictions on my own movements as a western woman working there, and finally, the restrictions of the medium of photography. During five weeks in Afghanistan in spring 2006, I quickly discovered that as a western woman, it was impossible for me to work on the streets with the kind of anonymity I have almost always been able to establish in other parts of the world. I was interested in the burqa – not just for what it has come to symbolize – but also as a vehicle for seeing the world around me. I’d seen many pictures of women in burqas, but I was interested in pictures that came from the other perspective, from inside the burqa. It is impossible to shoot with a regular camera from inside a burqa, as there is only an inch or two of space between one’s eyes and the mesh screen that hides the face. So I used my cellphone camera to look out from the burqa at the world around me, to try to see a bit of the world as it is seen by countless Afghan women every public minute of every day. I never did achieve the anonymity I hoped for; it was obvious to anyone (including the police, who stopped me while shooting in both Kabul and in Bamyan) that I was not local. But I was fascinated by the glimpses of the world I saw and photographed from inside the burqa. The “circle vision” you see in the images are created by the mesh screen of the garment, little intersecting boundaries that seem to me to be a reminder of the many woven boundaries that circle the lives of Afghan women every day.