Giulio Di Sturco

War at the Edge of Heaven

In August 2008, thousands of Muslims filled the streets of Srinagar, the capital of Indian-ruled Kashmir, shouting “azadi” (freedom) and raising the green flag of Islam. That was the start of a new revolution In Kashmir.
The Indian government’s insistence that peace is spreading in Kashmir contradicts a report by Human Rights Watch in 2006 that described a steady pattern of arbitrary arrest, extrajudicial execution and torture by Indian security forces.

In 2005, a survey by Doctors Without Borders, who provide basic health care and psychosocial counseling to the population, traumatized by over 20 years of violence, found that Muslim women in Kashmir, prey to the Indian troops and paramilitaries, suffered some of the most widespread sexual violence in the world.

Over the last two decades, most ordinary Kashmiri Muslims have wavered between active rebellion. They fear the possibility of Israeli-style settlements by Hindus-reports of a government move to allocate 92 acres of Kashmiri land to a Hindu religious group are what sparked the younger generation into the public disobedience expressed of late.

Hindu nationalists have already formed an economic blockade of the Kashmir Valley. In 1989 and ’90, when few Kashmiris had heard of Osama bin Laden, hundreds of thousands of Muslims regularly petitioned the United Nations office in Srinagar, hoping to raise the world’s sympathy for their cause. Indian troops responded by firing into many of these largely peaceful demonstrations, killing hundreds of people and provoking many young Kashmiris to take to arms and embrace radical Islam.
A new generation of politicized Kashmiris has now risen, and the world is again likely to ignore them – until some of them turn into terrorists.




Giulio di Sturco is a 30-year-old Italian photographer currently dividing his time between Milan and New Delhi.

He studied photography at the European Institute of Design and Visual Arts in Rome, and has covered North-American and the South-East Asia issues for many magazines such as L’espresso magazine, Vanity fair, Io Donna, The Daily Telegraph magazine, Time magazine, Marie Claire, Geo magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, Newsweek.

Since 2008 he start a closer collaboration with some of the most important international organization such as Greenpeace, MSF, Unitaid, United Nations, WHO and Action Aid.

In April 2009 Giulio Joined the VII Mentor Program.


Related links

Giulio Di Sturco


23 thoughts on “Giulio Di Sturco – War at the Edge of Heaven”

  1. Giulio,

    Bravo! Magnifico!
    These are beautifully executed, compositionally complex, and deeply stirring images, rich in content and magical in effect. One of the most powerful visual essays BURN has yet published.

  2. I must admit that I imagine sometimes Kashmir valley full of photographers – so many essays I’ve already seen from that part of the world… For sure this is a well photographed one, but I feel sort of disappointed of not seeing really new aspects especially when compared to the one of Andy Spyra, also published on burn. Or do I oversee something?

  3. Well, the interpretation is certainly dark and “dramatic,” with the printed down photos and the fuzzy images. I always wonder what these scenes look like without the artificially induced drama, though. If they were sharp and in color, would they tell the same story?

  4. NANA..

    i am smiling..i too imagine sometimes the Kashmir valley full of photographers, and the Caucuses and most of India and well, there is well trodden ground out there for sure…and no doubt the astute, as you, will compare this with Andy are probably right…there are no “new aspects” from this work over the Spyra essay (which was more than a year ago i think)…for me, publishing both works, i feel the readers here may choose from a hyper dramatized version like Sprya or a quieter version presented here by Di Sturco…yes, basically the same “information” but with totally different styles…the only similarity stylistically that i see anyway is the conversion to black & white…

    thanks for your observations…

    cheers, david

  5. I always wonder what these scenes look like without the artificially induced drama
    Jim, i agree. ! me too! i love love the Paolo Pellegrin “look” and lyricism..
    but sometimes i also wish someone had an iphone or blackberry to show me the color “truth” , although not always..over processed food is not always the best! choose organic for a change!
    And to all ladies out there..try once to not wear make might look prettier than u think!
    (and that goes to all super processed photogs out there too with the super duper photoshop apps/plug ins etc..less “make up” is more………………………….sometimes!!!!!)
    Coz when “coolness” becomes a rule! or a must! then the coolness is gone, vanished!…
    And its still so amazing though how many new photogs keep being influenced/copy PAOLO PELLEGRIN’s black n white “curves”!!!
    smiling…still smaller number though comparing to the ones (photogs) that tried/trying/will always try TO COPY , DAH’s signature fill flash/ color palette! im personally happily tired sometimes when i see “just another Paolo P, clone” or just another one desperately trying to copy that DAH , CUBA/RIO color look (shadows and silhouettes and sideways fill…)

    btw, Amazing essay…loved it!.. smells “italia” to me!
    one love , big hug!

  6. Panos, have a look at Giulio’s website to see some of these photos in colour, (although the colour has been messed with)

    There is some ipressive stuff on the site, but I must admit I prefer the less manipulated versions. Not that I am against manipulation, I just don’t think it adds any impact in this case, quite to opposite actually. I particularly dislike the photos with the induced blur.

    There are some gems here. I particularly love #7

    Congratulations Giullio. Glad to see this here and also to see the work on your site.

  7. “but sometimes i also wish someone had an iphone or blackberry to show me the color “truth”

    Really ?
    To me the “iphone’look’ is fast becoming the most cliched,over-manipulated style to come along in a
    long time- a style based on convenience and not,necessarily, thought.

  8. Mark, i didnt necessarily meant Hipstamatic or iphone APPS etc…i meant “raw, un manipulated phone photos or instant camera look!

    Gordon, yes havent got time to check website but i will definitely look for the color photos…the B&W is perfect here, juuuuuust a little “too perfect” for me, thats all!

  9. and i love Paolo (worked with him last month), and of course i love DAH…but but but…im tired seeing their clones everywhere…smiling!
    its ok to get inspired by DAH or Paolo but plz, plz dont copy them!

  10. Makes me think of what Manos, Höpker and Koudelka say in the Magnum-Photos video (around 1 hour and ten minutes in).. there they talk about photographers applying to the Agency presenting year after year the same stories, but basically it can be said here too.. good, even great photography, but new or different point of view or just clones?

    And then, there comes the question: does it matter? I don’t know.

  11. I agree that we have seen all this before, not just on Burn. It’s the standard take on Kashmir. It’s not even a story, really — just photos of the landscape of brutality. The accompanying text tries to make the situation sound as urgent as possible. “A new generation of politicized Kashmiris has now risen, and the world is again likely to ignore them – until some of them turn into terrorists.” Really? Oppressed Muslims = terrorists? That’s the point these pictures? Photographing to reinforce the standard narratives of the War on Terror, without any reference to the local issues facing Kashmiris (who are not all Muslims), seems pretty specious.

  12. I haven’t seen much on Kashmir only Andy Spyra’s essay and I personally find this one just as interesting. This isn’t an essay which barges right into your face, it’s soulful and needs watching slowly. It will probably survive the test of time and fashion wise better than Spyra’s, which is a very “now” essay style wise. “War at the Edge of Heaven”, reminds me a bit like Koudelka’s gypsies it gradually grew on me, although there seems to be a bit of everyone’s style in here and don’t find that bad either, we’re all made up of many photographers and drop of our own life as influence.
    Laughing, I don’t find them that over processed! But maybe that is because mine our way more over processed than this so move out Giulio because I’m first in the queue at the gallows pole!
    BTW, I once read once an interview with Koudelka’s printer and he commented that the images were pretty hard to print and needed many tries to get anything simply reasonable so in a sense Koudelka’s work could also be sort of seen as over processed. But we challenge his work? Why? Because he’s part of Magnum or because it’s all shot on film?
    But WTF the important thing is the content and I find these great, full of little subtle stories in each image.
    So just slow down and look at it over and over again, I’ll bet it grows on you and anyway it’s probably going to be up close to the top on Burn for a few days…

  13. Pingback: Guerra en el borde del cielo, la foto del día [041011] | Blog Image & Web Solution

  14. hello everyone,

    this is really a tough call.not undermining the work at all. Giulio is a brilliant and very hard working photographer. and if one goes to this side of world ,one can imagine the efforts one has to take to photograph the area . But i must suggest there’s another side of Kashmir too. Recently in a national magazine in New Delhi, i read profiles of five entrepreneurs from kashmir who were doing things differently, are successful and improving lives. And then sometime back a group was hoping to make a local movie in Srinagar . That i think are also stories worthwhile telling .

    David, Nana by the way also teaches photography to group of underprivileged children in Kashmir. Nana if you can please share more details.

    kind regards


  15. Pingback: War at the Edge of Heaven by Giulio Di Sturco (BURN Magazine) | The 37th Frame

Comments are closed.