October 19 – November 7, 2010
Platinum Prints by Hamid Sardar-Afkhami
“We exist in relation to three things”, says Tsuyanqua, the 100 year old Shaman, “Nature, the Animals and the memory of our Ancestors. Once we forget these three things, the guardian Angels abandon us and we are hunted by Demons that take a hold of our destiny.”
The Empty Quarter presents the stunning platinum prints by Hamid Sardar-Afkhami, Iranian ethno-photographer and film maker, who received his Ph.D. in Tibetan and Mongol languages from Harvard University. For the past 10 years, Dr. Sardar-Afkhami has travelled and lived with the reindeer nomads in Outer Mongolia, with the aim “to create a photographic record of the nomad’s way of life and observe something of the wisdom hidden in their customs and manners before they became divorced from their natural and spiritual environment.” His journeys have produced three award-winning documentary films, numerous articles and a single important photographic collection concentrating on Mongolia’s nomadic culture at the cusp of a great irreversible change.
Unlike Edward S. Curtis, the photographer’s who documented the life of North American Indians with what Serge Bramly qualified as “… the nostalgic eye of an outsider,” or with the point of view of a “… tourist, looking for sensations”, Hamid approaches his subject with the eye of an anthropologist and the complicit soul of an artist. Whereas Curtis errects a barrier between himself and the vanishing race, Hamid makes us conscious that we are closer to these people than we think. And that in reality, it is we who have lost the sacred connection to our past.
The platinum prints were produced at Salto labs, Ulbeek, Belgium, printers for David Bailey, Melvin Sokolsky, George Tice, Nick Brandt, among others. The lifespan of a platinum print guarantees it will be viewed two hundred or three hundred years from now, perhaps more. Thus, Hamid insures these people a life beyond their own and his.