Steve McCurry Exhibition Valencia

Steve McCurry’s fame drew me to an exhibition (just down the road from home!) of his photos from South Asia, set up as part of the International Journalism Congress that begins here tomorrow.

The photos covered mainly India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afganistan, Yemen, Tibet and Nepal. They were spell-binding. Each of his photos told a story vividly that you could sense the minute you saw it. His use of colour and light is very easy to appreciate as he brings out the best of everything in it’s natural surroundings – be it a wall, a tree, a person, or an animal.

Having said that, something that confused me about what I felt of his art was that all his pictures were so familiar to me, especially the ones from India. Naturally, I am Indian – but every picture – be it from Bhopal, Jodhpur, Varanasi, Bihar, Delhi or Mumbai, made me wonder how he saw modes of real human suffering (eg poverty, homelessness, floods, desert-storms) and normal existence (eg a full train, tea-pickers, farmers plowing a field, street children playing Holi, a lady in her chaniya-choli walking into her house, a child sleeping) and turned them into photographic art that today people pay money to see and pay a fortune to own. Surely these people have absolutely no clue that they are familiar faces to every other educated person in the world. They will die never knowing that some dude saw in them what nobody else did, captured it and framed it. That they, in a way will always be immortal.


  1. Interesting post. It reminds me of how the famous yesteryear actress Nargis Dutt had criticized the famous filmmaker, Satyajit Ray for continously and only depicting poverty in his films. She had to face a lot of flak for that.

    To the extent that it highlights reality is fine. One only wishes that one could also do something directly for the poor instead of making it into an art form for commercial success.

  2. Yes, the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the Afghani girl was – poor thing, he makes a fortune and what about her? Same goes for the others.

    But then again, he does his bit in bringing to light unjust realism…beautifully(!)He is a photographer doing what he does best. Punto. Can’t really hold a gun to his head for that.

  3. Good post. Can I answer to you in Spanish? Este tipo de fotos a veces llevan polémica, como tu ya insinuas. Hace años un fotógrafo (no recuerdo su nombre) ganó el Pulitzer por una foto en África en que se veía a una niña muy pequeña muriéndose de hambre (literalmente) con un par de buitres cerca, esperando claramente su muerte. Pero al menos, they raise awareness… (is that right?)

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