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Robert Nickeslberg

50 Years After Independence, 1997


Robert Nickelsberg worked as a TIME magazine contract photographer for nearly thirty years, specializing in political and cultural change in developing countries. He is the author of Afghanistan-A Distant War, published in 2013, which represents his 25 years of work in Afghanistan. A second book, Afghanistan’s Heritage – Restoring Spirit and Stone, was published in 2018 in collaboration with the Office of Press & Public Diplomacy of the United States Department of State. His photographs have been exhibited at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The International Center of Photography, Queensborough Community College, the Afghanistan Center at Kabul University, at The New America Foundation and at the United Nations in New York City. He lives with his wife in Brooklyn, New York.

50 Years After Independence, 1997.

I shot these eight portraits during my visit to a tribal village in the Indian state of Gujarat near Pakistan border. The village was situtated in the Rann of Kutch, a large and sparsely inhabited marshy land spread across two countries. I travelled there for a Time magazine assignment in 1997 when both India and Pakistan celebrated their 50 years of independence from the British colonial rule. Located in such a remote corner of India, the village and its residents looked as if they were stuck in time, both economically and socially, even five decades after gaining freedom from colonial power. Their mud houses and simple life style stood in stark contrast to many bustling cities in India that are witnessing rapid economic growth. These black and white photographs were taken using a Mamiya 7 medium format camera.

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