Jan. 20, 2023
Best of the Week — First Winner
Faceless portraits: Noroozi innovates to show struggle of Afghan women athletes
The best portraits capture a person’s essence, almost always by focusing on the human face. But AP photographer Ebrahim Noroozi, on assignment in Kabul temporarily from Iran, needed to do something different to show the effects of Afghanistan’s rule banning women playing sports.
Using the emblematic burqa to conceal the identities of the women athletes now forbidden from doing what they love best, Noroozi came up with the haunting series of faceless portraits to illustrate the erasure of Afghan women from public life under the Taliban.
Several female athletes who once played a variety of sports unrestricted posed for Noroozi with their athletic equipment – and their identities hidden by burqas, the all-encompassing robe and hood that completely covers the face, leaving only a swath of mesh to see through.
Noroozi’s images were published in an array of multimedia presentations by AP’s subscribers worldwide, including the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. The latter used them to illustrate a story about the near-simultaneous decision by Australia to cancel a men’s one-day international cricket series over the restrictions on women.
For innovation and sensitivity in showing a difficult subject, Noroozi earns Best of the Week – First Winner.