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Afghan Box Camera

Lukas Birk & Sean Foley

Afghan Box Camera documents a living form of pho-
tography on the brink of disappearing in Afghanistan,
one of the last places on earth where photographers
have continued to use a simple type of instant camera
called the kamra-e-faoree (‘instant camera’) for means
of making a living. The hand-made wooden camera is
both camera and darkroom in one and generations of
Afghans have had their portraits taken with it, usually
for identity photographs. At one stage it was even out-
lawed when former rulers of Afghanistan, the Taliban,
banned photography, forcing photographers to hide or
destroy their tools. Spanning decades, from peacetime
to war, box camera photography in Afghanistan exists
regionally within a more sophisticated history of ana-
logue photography. The same photographers plying
their trade with the humble kamra-e-faoree may well
have been making large format black and white portraits
Now available and colouring them in with exquisite artistry by hand.
With the help of dozens of Afghan photographers, Af-
152 pages, 146 photographs ghan Box Camera illustrates the technique and artistry
280mm x 230mm of a previously untold and visually enthralling photo-
Clothbound hardback graphic culture.
ISBN: 978-1-907893-36-0
Lukas Birk is an Austrian multi-media artist who exhib-
Dewi Lewis Publishing its regularly and organises visual-media workshops. He works primarily in Asia. In China and Indonesia he has set up artists in residency programs as well as networks
of local artists to co-operate with those in his native
Afghan Box Camera Project Austria. Sean Foley is an Irish ethnographer who specialises in
visual anthropology and works as a researcher on art
projects. He first made it to Afghanistan in 2002. He has
made ethnographic films on mortuary workers in India,
and tourism in Pakistan and Afghanistan.