chapter  3
30 Pages

Hidden Lights

Monika Bulaj’s Empathic Photo-Reportage of Afghanistan

Monika Bulaj's photo-reportage on Afghanistan, Nur.La luce nascosta dell'Afghanistan (Nur: the Hidden Light of Afghanistan), published in Italy in 2013 - following two journeys in 2009 and 2012 - reveals how the relation between written and photographic narration has the potential to enable ethico-political solidarity and a transnational affect through - using Braidotti's terminology - "empathic proximity and intense interconnectedness". This chapter argues that Bulaj's photo-reportage offers a language, both empathic and ethical, that moves the guest culture through aesthetic mediation, beyond constructed cultural, social and political borders. Bulaj's empathy, cultivated by her physical and spiritual journeys and creative work, is an ethical awareness that creates the possibility for reconfiguring boundaries, tracing connections, and creating patterns of proximity. Rather than immobilizing the Afghan subjects in an atemporal dimension for the pleasure of the Western viewer, Bulaj's "non-fiction creative writing" empathically exposes and moves her subjects into a literary, aesthetic and visual space that lets their "hidden light" emerge.