Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A00106 - Abbas Attar, Iranian Photographer Who Documented the Impact of Extremism

Abbas Attar
Abbas Attar (Persian: عباس‎; full name: عباس عطار ʿAbbās ʿAṭṭār; b. March 29,1944, Khash, Sistan and Baluchestan Province, Iran – d. April 25, 2018, Paris, France), better known by his mononym Abbas, was an Iranian photographer known for his photojournalism in Biafra, Vietnam and South Africa in the 1970s, and for his extensive essays on religions in later years. He was a member of Sipa Press from 1971 to 1973, a member of Gamma from 1974 to 1980, and joined Magnum Photos in 1981.
Attar, an Iranian transplanted to Paris, dedicated his photographic work to the political and social coverage of the developing southern nations. Beginning around 1970, his major works were published in world magazines and included wars and revolutions in Biafra, Bangladesh, Ulster, Vietnam, the Middle East, Chile, Cuba, and South Africa with an essay on apartheid.
From 1978 to 1980, Abbas photographed the revolution in Iran, and returned in 1997 after a 17 year voluntary exile. His book iranDiary 1971-2002 (2002) is a critical interpretation of its history, photographed and written as a personal diary.
From 1983 to 1986, Abbas travelled throughout Mexico, photographing the country as if he were writing a novel. An exhibition and a book, Return to Mexico, journeys beyond the mask (1992), which includes his travel diaries, helped him define his aesthetics in photography.
From 1987 to 1994, Abbas photographed the resurgence of Islam from Xinjiang to Morocco. His book and exhibition Allah O Akbar, a journey through militant Islam (1994) exposes the internal tensions within Muslim societies, torn between a mythical past and a desire for modernization and democracy. The book drew additional attention after the September 11 attacks in 2001.
When the year 2000 became a landmark in the universal calendar, Christianity was the symbol of the strength of Western civilization. Faces of Christianity, a photographic journey (2000) and a touring exhibit, explored this religion as a political, a ritual and a spiritual phenomenon.
From 2000 to 2002 Abbas worked on Animism. In our world defined by science and technology, the work looked at why irrational rituals make a strong come-back. He abandoned this project on the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Abbas' book, In Whose Name? The Islamic World after 9/11 (2009), is a seven year quest within 16 countries.  As set forth in this book, opposed by governments who hunt them mercilessly, the jihadists lose many battles, but they may be winning the war to control the mind of the people, with the "creeping islamisation" of all Muslim societies.
From 2008 to 2010 Abbas travelled the world of Buddhism, photographing with the same sceptical eye for his book Les Enfants du lotus, voyage chez les bouddhistes(2011). In 2011, he began a similar long-term project on Hinduism which he concluded in 2013.
Before his death, Abbas was working on documenting Judaism around the world.
He died in Paris on April 25, 2018.

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