Sarah Caron

The Land of the Pure

© Sarah Caron

On 27 December 2007, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Stuck in traffic in her taxi on the way to a rally organised by this opponent of Pervez Musharraf, Sarah Caron found herself at the heart of one of the most tumultuous periods of the Islamic republic’s history. A month earlier, she had landed a commission for Time magazine with a scoop: an interview and photo shoot with Bhutto, who was then under house arrest.

If you think that it all sounds like something out of a novel, you’d be right. In fact, she has turned it into a graphic novel. However, the story of this leading French press photographer began long before the events of 2007. Her first images taken in India depicted the exile of widows in the north of the country and earned her an exhibition at Visa pour l’Image in 1999. It was then that Caron, who was destined to become a ballet dancer, fully embraced photography and journalism. In 2019, Sarah Caron was awarded by the Pulitzer Grant for Editorial Crisis Reporting. With an approach that is always sophisticated and never sensational, she is quick to cover the most interesting subjects – the ones we don’t talk about enough.

Her lens goes wherever her journalistic instinct guides her, she has been doing the splits between Asia and South America for 20 years. Pakistan is a country of which we often only see the worst, yet here Caron presents variations of the country she has travelled through from west to east, from north to south, from its vibrant and teeming megacities to the desert foothills of the Hindu Kush where huge trucks bedecked with multicoloured garlands meander along the winding roads. Caron has visited every stratum of this country, from the dangerous tribal areas to the catwalks of Karachi’s haute couture designers. She has set out to meet its lesser-known populations who exist unaffected by the passing of time, like the last Kalash of Chitral (whom myths wrongly refer to as the descendants of Alexander the Great) or the Mohana, the sea lords of the Indus Valley who live on the shores of Lake Manchar where they keep their traditions alive.

A retrospective show of an outstanding body of photographic and journalistic work focused on the women and men of this singular nation.

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