‘Anja Niedringhaus’ Exhibit

June 2, 2024
7:00 AM — 7:00 PM E.T. Monday — Friday
Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS) Knafel Concourse, 1737 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA 02138
A collection of Anja Niedringhaus' powerful images from Afghanistan and Pakistan are on display at Harvard until June 2, 2024 in honor of the 10th anniversary of her death. This photography exhibit of Anja Niedringhaus' work is co-sponsored by the Nieman Foundation.

As a Pulitzer Prize-winning staff photographer for The Associated Press, Anja Niedringhaus covered conflicts in Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In the course of her work, Niedringhaus traveled through some of the most difficult years of the protracted Afghan war, reaching deep into the soul of Afghanistan and bringing its people to life for the outside world with her powerful photographs.

Niedringhaus was killed on April 4, 2014, when an Afghan policeman opened fire on her and colleague and friend Kathy Gannon while they sat in a car in a heavily guarded Afghan police compound in Banda Khel, in eastern Afghanistan. Gannon was seriously injured in the attack. In honor of the 10th anniversary of her death, her friends Ami Beckmann, Kathy Gannon, and Muhammed Muheisen curated this traveling exhibition, as well as a book of her work in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The collection of photographs originated from a set of over 100 that Niedringhaus herself had begun to curate from her career at the time of her death.

Niedringhaus’ photographs reveal the distress that wars bring to a country and its people. Her interest in zones of conflict was less about war itself and more about the people who lived in these areas and had to contend with violence and suffering. With her unique visual language, she created images that do justice to this subject matter, and elevate our understanding of it from the outside — they draw us in with their compelling beauty, but do not spare us from the emotional and physical reality of violent conflict. Her photographs were taken under the most difficult circumstances, and yet they radiate an incredible calm and intimacy.

The photographs offer rare glimpses into lives seen by few, such as a first-ever embed with the Pakistan army in the freezing Hindu Kush Mountain peaks on the border with Afghanistan, or the simple, yet powerful reminder of innocence in the photograph, taken the day before she died, of children playing amid the mesh-encased blast-proof Hesco bags designed to protect them from terrorist attacks against an election commission office in the eastern Afghanistan town of Khost. With her artist’s eye and journalistic instincts, her photographs give us a deeper, more personal understanding of the places and people she covered.

This exhibition honors Anja Niedringhaus’ unique and exemplary work in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the extraordinary and tragic sacrifices that she and too many other journalists have made to inform the world. It celebrates the impact that her photographs have had on public policy and public perceptions, it documents the collaboration between two strong and courageous female journalists, and, in the way that the best journalism does, it reminds us of our own humanity and connections to others.

The photographs used in this exhibit were provided by The Associated Press. Harvard is the second stop for this exhibit, which opened at the Bronx Documentary Center in New York on April 4, 2024.

This event is co-sponsored by the Nieman Foundation. Anja Niedringhaus was awarded a Nieman Fellowship in journalism from 2006 2007.

Kathy Gannon was a fall 2022 fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy

About the photographer:

Anja Niedringhaus headshot
Anja Niedringhaus

The Pulitzer prize winning photographer, Anja Niedringhaus (1965-2014), started her career as a freelance photographer for a local newspaper in her hometown in Hoexter, Germany at the age of 16. After finishing high school, she went on to study German literature, philosophy, and journalism in Goettingen, Germany.

While in university, Niedringhaus continued to freelance as a photographer for various newspapers and magazines. Among the events she covered was the Fall of the Berlin Wall which led to a staff position as photographer for the European Press Photo Agency, EPA in Frankfurt, in 1990.  She worked at EPA as chief photographer until 2001 focusing much of her time covering the brutal conflict in the former Yugoslavia. She was based for several years in Sarajevo and in Moscow.

In 2002 she joined the Associated Press, AP, as a staff photographer based in Geneva, Switzerland, which remained her base. In the ensuing years Niedringhaus has covered most of the world’s conflict regions in Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In addition to photographing conflicts and political crisis around the world, Niedringhaus also covered the world’s premier sporting events, including nine Olympic Games.

The internationally acclaimed photographer died on April 4th, 2014, when an Afghan policeman opened fire on her car in Banda Khel, in eastern Afghanistan. Niedringhaus (48) and her friend and colleague Kathy Gannon, who was seriously injured were alone in their car in a heavily guarded Afghan police compound, when a police commander opened fire on them with his AK47 rifle.

In 2005 Niedringhaus and a team of AP photographers won the Pulitzer Prize in the breaking news category for their coverage of the war in Iraq. The same year Niedringhaus received the Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation.

From 2006 to 2007, Niedringhaus was awarded a Nieman Fellowship in journalism at Harvard University.

Over the past 20 years Niedringhaus’ work has garnered numerous prizes. They include Pictures of the Year International, BOP Best of Photojournalism, Clarion Awards, The Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, Award Winner of the ‘Goldene Feder’ Hamburg and winner of  the ‘Abisag Tuellmann’ award for reportage photography in 2011.

Niedringhaus’ work  has been exhibited in a number of prestigeous art houses and museums including  the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt, the C/O Gallery in Berlin, the Art Collection of the German stock exchange in Frankfurt, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas as well as in museums and galleries in the United States, London, Austria, Switzerland and Canada.

Anja Niedringhaus published two books: In 2001 ‘Fotografien’ (Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt) and in 2011 ‘At War’ (Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern).