Photo by @simonnorfolkstudio / The brickworks at Hissain Hill, east of Kabul, 2002. The moniker “Afghanistan, graveyard of empires” has never seemed so true as when watching headlines of the catastrophic bomb attack and shambolic withdrawal in Kabul. The photographs I’ve made in that country over 20 years have been a meditation on imperial delusion: daydreams of grandeur, the arrogance of global reach, the crushing humiliation of overstretch.
Imperialists see themselves as the muscular protagonists of events, the ones that make stuff happen, the ones that form events. Foreign countries are just the passive arenas to them. This is empire’s greatest stupidity. As seen with the British in 1842 and 1878, the Russians in the 1980, and in the ruins of great empires I photographed in Afghanistan, beginning in 2001.
I’m reposting images from the past 20 years, an essay on hubris and nemesis. Follow me @simonnorfolkstudio for updates, outtakes, unpublished and archive material.