Fazal Sheikh & Teju Cole: Human Archipelago
For the past 25 years Fazal Sheikh (born 1965) has highlighted the plight of displaced people and refugees around the world. He has photographed people driven from their homes by war as well as those upended by the redrawing of national borders and the reassertion of racial and ethnic divisions. Sheikh has also made sublime photographs of landscapes altered by political and environmental crises.
In recent years, the shift to the political right in the US has been replicated across Europe, the Middle East, Central and East Africa and Southeast Asia, as authoritarian governments and xenophobia have increased. As an act of refusal of these political trends, Sheikh sought out the celebrated novelist and critic Teju Cole (born 1975) for a collaboration that would reinforce their commitment to the ideal of a compassionate global community as well as the importance of individual courage.
The resulting book, now reprinted with a new cover, represents the two authors’ distinct visions, their shared values and mutual spirit of cooperation. With Cole’s words and Sheikh’s photos we are confronted with fundamental and newly necessary questions of co-existence: Who is my neighbor? Who is kin to me? Who is a stranger? What does it mean to be human?
Teju Cole is an American writer, photographer and art historian. He is the author of a novella, Every Day is for the Thief; a novel, Open City; an essay collection, Known and Strange Things; and a photobook, Punto d’Ombra. He was the photography critic of the New York Times Magazine and the Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing at Harvard.