It is not easy to photograph the market. It is hard to overcome the allure of genre scenes, the charm of exoticism, the commonplaces of orientalism, the temptation to grasp this whole buzz at once, and in the end nothing remains in our hands. This time the star of Russian press photo, Ilya Varlamov did not really succeed to do it either. True, his pictures made on two Afghan markets are not bad photos, you browse them with nostalgia to recall those smells and sounds, the dusty heat and the excitement of discovery, but they are far from, say, the precision and accuracy of the shots of the Afghan anti-opium war series.
However, these photos still stand out from the contemporary Afghan photo dumping in some way. We have already mentioned that the amount of photos put on the net each week by the photographers working in Afghanistan to meet the hunger of the press, could be a golden mine for a good anthropologist. And not only for one specialized in Afghanistan, but also for one researching the visual culture of Western photographers. The Americans usually picture Afghanistan as a troubled and disintegrated, surreal and post-apocalyptic world. The photos of Ilya Varlamov, in contrast, show the return of normality and the human relations which constitute the context of life. There appear the small luxuries of everyday life, clean clothes, a relative abundance of wares. This world becomes understandable and, even if with great difficulty, liveable.
But who needs this amount of parrots in Kabul?