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Fazal Sheikh: Portraits

October 18–November 24, 2007

32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY


Installation Views

Selected Works

Pace/MacGill Gallery is pleased to present Fazal Sheikh: Portraits, a retrospective exhibition on view from October 18 through November 24, 2007. The exhibition coincides with Beloved Daughters, an exhibition featuring Sheikh’s most recent projects, Moksha and Ladli, on view at the Princeton University Art Museum from September 29, 2007 through January 6, 2008.

Fazal Sheikh (b. 1965) is a socially engaged documentary photographer who harnesses the intimacy of portraiture to bring the face of the world’s displaced people into focus. His subjects have included Ethiopian, Mozambican, Sudanese and Somali refugees at camps in Kenya, survivors of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and the indigenous people of Brazil. In contrast to the sensational depictions of humanitarian crises often generated by the mass media, Sheikh creates personal portraits of his subjects while spending time in their communities.

Most recently, Sheikh photographed Hindu widows in Vrindavan, one of India’s holy places. Women towards the end of life travel to and settle in the sacred city to pass their last years. Sheikh’s portraits of them reveal an acceptance of their mortality and their spiritual search for what is to come. While in Delhi, Sheikh documented the lives of girls and young women in a rapidly changing but tradition bound society. Their stories reveal shocking experiences of abduction, rape, labor exploitation, spousal abuse, and murder. Although the economic profile of India may be adopting a more contemporary, First World face, it remains clear that the retrogressive practice of female subservience and sublimation in Indian society continues. Sheikh’s powerful portraits capture and articulate his subjects’ histories with immediacy, sensitivity and dignity.

Sheikh has received multiple awards, including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2005); the Henri Cartier-Bresson International Grand Prize (2005); the Prix d’Arles (2003); a Volkart Foundation Grant (2000); Photowork(s) in Progress III by the Mondrian Foundation and the Nederlands Foto Instituut (1999); the Ruttenberg and Furguson Awards from the Friends of Photography (1995); the Mother Jones International Documentary Award (1995); the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography (1995); the Leica Medal of Excellence (1995); a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Photography (1994) and a Fulbright Fellowship in the Arts (1992).

His work belongs to over twenty international collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the International Center of Photography, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the National Museum of Kenya, Nairobi; and the Sprengel Museum, Hannover.

Monographs of Sheikh’s work include: A Sense of Common Ground (1996); The Victor Weeps (1998); A Camel for the Son (2001); Ramadan Moon (2001); Moksha (2005); Un Chameau Pour Le Fils (2005); and Ladli (2007). His work has also been featured in the recent publications In Response to Place: Photographs from the Nature Conservancy’s Last Great Places (2001) and Cuba On The Verge: An Island in Transition (2003). Thousands of Sheikh’s books and multimedia publications have been distributed free of charge to promote awareness of international human rights issues.

Sheikh lives and works in Zurich, New York City, and Kenya.

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