"Nonstop imagery is our surround, but when it comes to remembering, the photograph has the deeper bite....
In an era of information overload, the photograph..is like a quotation, or a maxim or proverb."
(Susan Sontag: Regarding the Pain of Others 2003)

29 July, 2008

ArtLondon #5 Asia House/Afghanistan

This image - copyright Seamus Murphy
The late, great Philip Jones Griffiths (1936-2008) called Seamus Murphy “a poet with a camera” – yes, of course, a clichéd epithet - but, like any cliché worth its salt, it contains more than a kernel of truth. If you want to see some excellent examples of Murphy’s visual verse, you have until September 13th to wend your way to Asia House, an extraordinary and relatively new venue, still practically hidden on London's super-posh New Cavendish Street, nestled between all the plastic surgeons, orthodontists and top-of-the-range shrinks plying their various trades in W1.

Murphy’s exhibition of images from his latest project: A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan remain on show in the main Asia House Gallery. Check out:


Afghanistan and continued British involvement in this fascinating, strange and remote country remain an enigma to me. In a bid to better understand why we are still involved there, and to what end, I went last week to an Asia House event where my erstwhile & esteemed colleague, “Vitamin Murders” writer James Fergusson, was talking about his latest book: A Million Bullets: The Real Story of the British Army in Afghanistan. I left elucidated but nevertheless depressed to have my own instincts confirmed: that military intervention – let alone that of a former imperial power – had no chance whatever to effect any possible good for the future of the Afghan people – the same people so nobly portrayed in Seamus Murphy’s photographs. If you can’t make the show, do check out the book at:

James Fergusson’s considered and beautifully written analysis can be perused further at: