Massimo Berruti

Pakistan: Fade Into Dust


Pakistan is considered to have had a key role in the start of the war on terrorism, as probably it will have a main role in the history of its end.

Pakistan is “the country” on the front line of the War on Terror, the most directly involved and afflicted, with the military operation launched in Swat Valley in may 2009 and the subsequent one in South Waziristan, which together have caused 4 million of evacuees. But the involvement shown so far is not yet sufficient for the U.S. Administrations.



After the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s killing by the hands of a US operative commando on Pakistani soil, the relations between the two countries seem doomed to crash.

More than during the past Musharaff regime, Pakistani developement is connected and subordinate to the international policy. Its economy is fully financed by the US and the IMF, even though Pakistan is a country that by the richness of its soil could be mostly independent.

The fast and constant rise of taxes is at the root of the impoverishment of its society.

Meanwhile, wealth more and more concentrated in the hands of a few, is creating available ground for ignorance and extremism to grow, fertilized by the rising rage of the poor against their governors.

If on one hand Pakistanis, through examples like the lawyer movement, are showing their awareness and their will to contribute to a better society, fighting for their rights, on the other hand the same people has fallen under a heavy physical and psycological pressure of terrorism and recession.

The purpose of this project is to look through the changing society of Pakistan and the upward spiral of violence this country has fallen into since September 2001. A spyral that is driven by something invisible, its first target being the people. Something that risks to invest us all.




Massimo Berruti was born in 1979 in Rome, Italy, where he actually lives.

In 2003, after a short course of photography, he stopped his studies in biology to go deeper in photography. Freelance photographer, from 2004 he started to work in Eastern Europe, and mostly in Italy. Here he worked on immigration, suburbs and the industry crisis: parts of his work was published in a book called “Made in Italy”.

His professional career began when working with the most important Italian and European magazines such as l’Espresso, Internazionale, D la Repubblica delle Donne, Le Monde2 and The Independent.

In 2008 he began traveling to Central Asia, particularly to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he is documenting the changing society. He won two World Press Photo: in 2007 (Second Prize Reportage in “Contemporary issue”) and in 2011 (Second Prize Stories in “General news”).


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15 thoughts on “Massimo Berruti – Pakistan: Fade Into Dust”

  1. One of the better narratives seen here for a while there is enough variety in the individual images to retain interest …………. yep Pakistan a place where male dominance is obvious.

  2. I’d say: it’s about time to see this here… :-) Cranks up the quality one more notch… Can’t wait to see the next things he comes up with…

  3. A very powerful essay about a region of global significance. Excellent and brave photography here. The subject matter is complex and mull-layered. Here we have a country able to feed itself but which, instead, has widespread poverty and is armed with nuclear weaponry. Add the affects of Taliban dominance in the north with continuing drone strikes and you have a volatile mix. This essay gives more than a glimpse of the situation in Pakistan. I would like to see more of the “wealth more and more concentrated in the hands of a few” but this is by no means a criticism and I look forward to seeing more from Massimo in the future. Photograph 16 shows the importance of captions. Look at the photograph and you probably think “Taliban”. Only when you read the caption do you get a more complete understanding.
    Congratulations and thank you, Massimo.


  4. Talented photographer. Don’t know about still another photo story on Pakistan, though. Pakistan certainly serves as a warning to the U.S. of what happens when wealth is concentrated at the top. A picture of our future (or perhaps present)?

  5. So many strong images. I respond best to those that look like Caravaggio’s Deposition of Christ as filtered through Picasso’s Guernica. Hard compositionally throughout the frame; close-up; tight.

    Emotional, passionate, angry and enlightening. Bravo!

  6. Looks like you answered your own question, Jim. Time moves on and this story, over time, may prove to be an unfolding of important history and an addition to the visual documentation of the region.


  7. short comment (by bobblack standards as i’m operating without power at home, and typing on a friends ipad on the way to school)…

    powerful and fully statured work!

    My only lament is that this essay was only 25 images….i felt like i was just getting started, and I mean that in the most complimentary, needful way. this is powerful narrative documentary at its finest and even its its seemingly truncated form, the movement we experience from image #1 to image #25 is a powerful visual and visceral experience. The level of journalism so high, that I want even more and I want even more of the stories of the people (the child, the blind man, the Wellesian man in the flashlight shadow, the nurse, all those singular portraits, i want to know even more, see more.And I hope Max too can explore all those missing women, who become in many ways the voice here for me because of their absence…

    congratulations Max and congratulations to Burn for sharing.

    will wait eagerly, as Max’s work on Pakistan continues….

  8. re-reading: my ‘too short’ comment is in NO WAY a criticism of this work, but more about my need as a photographer/reader to HUNGER for more of these and more of the stories…that becomes even that much more powerful when looking at work this sustained and this intelligent and powerful…!…but not at all a criticism of either Max or the Burn presentation here…ok, off the subway…

  9. Bravo, bravo, bravo!!!!!
    Tengo los pelos de punta.

    Incredible work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    A lot of impressive images here!!!!

    You are such a talented photographer.

    Many thanks for sharing this!!!!!!!!!

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