Véronique de Viguerie
Shards of peace
Véronique de Viguerie’s career began at the turn of the 21st century after she first set foot in Afghanistan in 1999. She was 21 years old and immediately captivated by the country. “I was amazed by everything I saw. It was like travelling back in time; the men wearing turbans, the women in burkhas...”. Intending to stay for a few months, she ended up based in Kabul for three years.
Having visited Colombia, Iraq and Somalia, Véronique quickly met with success, drawing the interest of some of the most highly regarded French and international publications. An outstanding photojournalist, she won a series of awards, including the Bayeux Award for war correspondents, a World Press Photo Award and several Visa d’or Awards.
She has been covering events in Afghanistan since the early 2000s. She was, for example, present when the Taliban took Kabul and her photographs of the capital’s new rulers on the airport runway, deserted by the Americans, mark a grim epilogue to a story that began twenty years earlier.
Her work naturally deals with the complexities of a country scarred by two decades of internal war and military occupation. However, she has also endeavoured to show the day-to-day life of the people who live there. For example, alongside her exclusive coverage of the Taliban, she has documented the Hazaras skiing in the Bamiyan Valley, captured the tenderness of a farming couple, and recorded the hope and laughter of young Afghans. “Over there, being a Western woman has always been an advantage,” explains the photographer. “We’re a bit like a third sex, neither man nor woman, not like the people they know.” A status that has opened the doors to many places often out of bounds for foreign men.
This exhibition stresses the importance for a photographer and, for that matter, a long-serving photojournalist, of being able to return to a country and work on the nitty-gritty, to consider a variety of angles and to cover as many aspects of the story as possible.
These shards of peace are on show this year at La Gacilly: slivers of intimacy, snippets of tranquillity and interludes of calm, far from the tumult of war and the scurry of current events.