Portraits, first prize singles
Bibi Aisha, 18, was disfigured as retribution for fleeing her husband’s house in Oruzgan province, in the center of Afghanistan. At the age of 12, Aisha and her younger sister had been given to the family of a Taliban fighter under a Pashtun tribal custom for settling disputes. When she reached puberty she was married to him, but she later returned to her parents’ home, complaining of violent treatment by her in-laws. Men arrived there one night demanding that she be handed over to be punished for running away. Aisha was taken to a mountain clearing, where, at the orders of a Taliban commander, she was held down and had first her ears sliced off, then her nose. In local culture, a man who has been shamed by his wife is said to have lost his nose, and this is seen as punishment in return. Aisha was abandoned, but later rescued and taken to a shelter in Kabul run by the aid organization Women for Afghan Women, where she was given treatment and psychological help. After time in the refuge, she was taken to America to receive further counseling and reconstructive surgery.
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About the photographer
After completing three short courses at the Market Photography Workshop in Johannesburg, Jodi Bieber participated in a photographic training programme at the Star newspaper, under the late Ken Oosterbroek, in 1993. She continued to work there in the period leading up to and during South Africa’s first democratic elections. In 1996, she was a participant in the Joop Swart Masterclass, and went on to work on assignments for publications such as the New York Times Magazine. Over a ten-year period (1994–2004) Bieber focused on the country of her birth, photographing youth living on the fringes of South African society. This work led to a book, Between Dogs and Wolves – Growing up with South Africa, published and released in five countries in 2006.
Her most recent book Soweto was published in 2010, and Real Beauty will appear in 2014. Bieber’s photograph of young mutilated Afghan woman featured on the cover of Time magazine in August 2010, and went on to win the World Press Photo of the Year. She has won five other World Press Photo awards and has served as a master at the Joop Swart Masterclass. Bieber is also a winner Prix de le l’Union Europeene at the Recontres de Bamako Biennale Africaine de la Photographie, among many other accolades. Her work is exhibited internationally in solo and group shows. Her mid-career show Between Darkness and Light is currently traveling in Germany and will be at the Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg in 2014. Bieber has given workshops and been a guest lecturer internationally. She is also a Brand Ambassador for the province of Gauteng in South Africa, and is represented by The Goodman Gallery.