Full Frame: Left behind in Tajikistan


Full Frame features photo essays and conversations with photographers in the field.

While photographing illegal migrants working in gated markets in Moscow, I developed a strong connection with the least protected of the migrant minorities working there, the Tajiks. I became curious about their country and the families back home that these men had left behind. A short time later, I traveled to Tajikistan and found that the poorest country in Central Asia is a beautiful, isolated, mountainous place, where “the land is so empty that one can hear the wings of turquoise roller birds as they swoop out of holes in the road.”

Even with an economy still ravaged by the civil war in the 1990s and the withdrawal of Russian support, there are no beggars in the streets, none of the crime and lawlessness typically associated with such poverty. It is a society held together and sustained by the women, children and grandparents left behind in their poetic surroundings, struggling to support themselves and patiently waiting for their loved ones to return.

Photography is a way for me to be part of the world while I am getting to know it and trying to make sense of it. As a photographer I expose myself to the people I photograph as much as they expose themselves to me. Having to explain over and over again what I am doing and why, makes me constantly refocus on what is important to me and thus dig deeper in myself.

I think that pictures reveal a piece of the mystery that is life, they show a point of view of the photographer and offer a temporary answer, a way to look at something.

About the photographer:

Mashid Mohadjerin was born in Iran and grew up in Belgium, where she received her MFA in photography in 2002. She started freelancing in 2004, while also working on personal projects that focused mainly on social/cultural identity and migration. She has worked as a photographer across the world, and has lived in Pakistan, the Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States. Her clients include The New York Times, BBC online, Oxfam, La Repubblica/La Domenica, Newsweek, Mondiaal magazine and Elsevier, among many others.

Her work has been exhibited in Europe, the U.S. and Central Asia. Her awards include World Press Photo Contemporary Issues: 1st prize singles, an honorable mention from International Photography Awards and Prix de la Photographie Paris, and a photography award from the International Organization for Migration. Mashid is currently based in New York and is a Redux pictures contributing photographer.

In .

Tagged: Asia.