Wednesday, July 25, 2012

PHOTOGRAPHY: Postcard from Nagorno-Karabakh and Beyond. Posted by Whitney Johnson (

( Bruce Haley has photographed conflict and aftermath all over the world, but I first met him at the San Francisco Arts Institute, where he spent the better part of the evening recounting tales from Afghanistan and Burma at a local bar. “I love that guy,” recalls the photo editor Jason Houston. “Under that uber-tough exterior he’s a big teddy bear who really, really cares about people. Sort of the perfect field journalist for the types of places and sorts of stories he covered.”

Haley’s monograph, “Sunder”—to break apart or in two: separate by or as if by violence—begins in Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region in the South Caucasus, in 1994, and takes us across several post-Soviet countries. He told me recently about a journey he took on an old locomotive, “supposedly the last steam train in Europe that was still being used for actual work purposes”:

Early one morning, I rode that train up to the border with Moldova, along with a group of lumberjacks. The tracks followed a narrow river valley, with mist rising up from the water and the sparkling grass. As we rounded a bend, I looked out the window and noticed a young shepherdess, in traditional dress and headscarf, tending to a flock of sheep in a meadow. It was like something by a late 19th century or early 20th century Pictorialist. As we drew closer and the train skirted the meadow, I could see that the young girl was holding something and her head was bent towards it slightly, and she was looking very intently. As the train continued around the meadow, and I got my best look at her, I saw that it was a Game Boy.

Haley describes the sequence of images in the book as a musical composition, with high notes and low. And though many of his images are devoid of human figures—desolate buildings, or abandoned remnants of war—I found myself most drawn to his people, with memories etched on their faces, and hope, too.

You can meet Haley at the Daylight book launch party for “Sunder” and Alejandro Cartagena’s “Suburbia Mexicana” at CPW25, from 9 to 11 P.M. Friday night.


Success Stories: Bruce Haley (


Daylight Books and Charta Editions are proud to present Sunder a monograph by Bruce Haley

Featured by the
New Yorker and New York Times
144 pages
55 black + white photographs
Introduction by Kirsten Rian
Foreword by Dina and Clint Eastwood
Essay by Andrei Codrescu

Produced between 1994 and 2002, the images in SUNDER sweep the viewer along on a far-reaching journey through numerous former USSR and Iron Curtain countries, stopping at landscapes of ruin and moments of grace in equal measure. Haley's explorations were intuitive, responding to a deep curiosity to taste the last drops of the would-be Utopian ideology that dominated global politics during the first thirty years of his life. Using black and white film, the notion of remnants and transition would sustain Haley's photographic investigation for some eight years. The resulting images present a stark perspective of the collapse of the communist empire. Haley’s photographs are bleak and brimming with the realism that only a photographer as seasoned as he could achieve. Given the contrast with Haley’s conflict-based coverage, which was dominated by lush color imagery depicting the most horrific acts of violence imaginable, it seems as though this personal project is as much a portrait of the photographer himself as it is an invaluable historical archive. Co-published with Charta Editions.

Bruce Haley : Sunder from Daylight Multimedia on Vimeo.

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