Kandahar, a city of Pashtuns noted for their gaiety, where Mullah Omar had made his final headquarters, has traditions of men in high-heeled sandals, with make-up of khol and painted nails like the sultry silent-movie stars. They liked to have their pictures taken and, because the Taliban most certainly needed passports, their vanities were accommodated in the hole-in-the-wall photo shops that existed in downtown Kandahar. The "Magnum" photographer Thomas Dworzak, on war assignment for the "New Yorker", discovered their photographs days after they had fled the city. They hung among portraits of Bruce Lee, Leonardo Di Caprio and Ahmed Shah Massoud, their faces retouched by the artful brushwork of the photographer. As exotic backdrops the subjects have chosen chalets in the Swiss Alps, where the mountains are green and Julie Andrews sings, rather than the forbidding grey and brown of their own country. Some are alone, others with a friend or a Kalashnikov, with garish colours stroked into the theme, along with flowers. Among them were killers who have fled, leaving behind an absurd record of their presence.
Thomas Dworzak was born in Munich in 1972. He began freelancing in Eastern Europe and the Middle East in 1991. Three years later he was based in Tbilisi, Georgia, covering the Caucasus and Chechnya. He became a member of Magnum in 2000, his work appearing in such prominent publications as The New Yorker, Newsweek, Paris Match, etc.