About Terrain of Loss

Based on independent photographer Andrea Camuto's five extensive, un-embedded stays in Afghanistan, Terrain of Loss illuminates the life of Afghans almost invisible in our mainstream media. After the fall of the Taliban, a vast migration of refugees was by 2002 the largest assisted repatriation in history, a crisis overshadowed by international military efforts against the Taliban insurgency. By 2005, when Camuto first went to Afghanistan, five million refugees had returned from exile, with more on the way. In her haunting photographs of a brutalized, war-torn land, we see these landless refugee families and, in particular, Afghan women--"resettled" in scarred and bleak landscapes, in a woman’s prison, on the windswept plains.

Essay by the photographer. Limited edition of 1,000 copies, clothbound. Fifty black and white photographs.


A graduate of the International Center of Photography, Andrea Camuto is a New York City-based photographer whose work explores issues of women and social justice in Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, India and Mali. Recipient of awards and fellowships from ICP/GFC, the Wilmer Shields Council on Foundations, PDN, Critical Mass and Jacob Riis, she has had solo gallery shows in New York City and San Francisco and contributed to numerous group shows. Currently, Andrea Camuto is preparing a solo show for the Bolinas Museum in California.

Critical Praise

Andrea Camuto’s stunning work allows our eyes to follow her own unaverted gaze. She traveled four times into the war in Afghanistan, to make photos that would, she writes, “keep us accountable” to the people she saw there.  Her lens found war-fled families subsisting in ruins, living in darkness.   Andrea has gathered into her camera rays of light that make these lives count, that force us to count them.  Terrain of Loss shows us the barely-shod feet of mothers who walked to these places, their hands that have so little to hold, the eyes of their children.  Turning these pages, I knew I was seeing images I will never forget.

—Melody Ermachild Chavis, author, Meena, Heroine of Afghanistan, The Life of the Martyred Founder of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

Andrea Camuto's beautiful, haunting photographs chronicle the struggles of Afghan refugees, particularly women, as they search for home in their war-scarred homeland. Her lens brings home the enormous toll three decades of upheaval have exacted on women and children. Her subjects are mothers who live in fear, children who wander through abandoned buildings and windy plains, the horizons of their lives tragically shortened. It is there, on every page, brought gloriously to life: the pain, the fear, the crushing despair, but also, the dim glints of hope, the small moments of grace.

Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner

This harsh reality [in Terrain of Loss] is moving and true and beautiful.

Bruce Davidson, photographer, Outside Inside

Darkly elegant , despite the grim reality of its subject matter, TERRAIN OF LOSS displays the power of photography to go beyond mere art or documentary to connect the viewer emotionally to the desperate struggle to maintain humanity within the chaos that is Afghanistan today . Andrea Camuto's spare photographic vision insightfully captures moments that in their entirety leave one concerned, but even more, afraid for a world that would allow such things to happen.

—Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator Emeritus, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Harrowing and uncompromising, Andrea Camuto's war imagery in Terrain of Loss is elegant and minimal in presentation, profoundly impacting the viewer.

—Stephen Rosenberg, Adjunct Professor, New York University Steinhardt Department of Art and Art Professions; former Director, Art Business Masters Degree Program, Sotheby's Institute of Art, New York

Not only are the photographs in Terrain of Loss heartrending, there’s a dreamlike quality, a sense of mystery, that evokes Josef Koudelka’s Gypsies work--they share a very intuitive way of looking at the world that perhaps originated with Robert Frank’s The Americans. It’s street photography, but a grittier, darker, more emotionally evocative way to photograph the relationship of humans and their habitat. The design of this book is also excellent. The use of black left hand pages and borders creates a space of darkness within which the images seem to explode. This book is loaded with evocative, and metaphoric images. Many show dark spaces, but with bright light bursting through. Or very enclosed spaces, where the crumbling walls become Pollock-like abstractions. I’m amazed by the photographs in Terrain of Loss--blown away.

—Wayne Levin, Photographer, author of Akule

Terrain of Loss: Afghan Exiles In Their Own Land
Photographs by Andrea Camuto



Published: El Leon; April 2012

Terrain of Loss: Afghan Exiles In Their Own Land  Photographs by Andrea Camuto