‘Stelle Del Mare’ – Postcards from Malta, by Jason Florio

‘Stelle Del Mare’ frame #8 ‘The Philosophers, Stoned’ – Image ©Jason Florio

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‘Stelle Del Mare’ – The people, they arrive to you early seeking your silky salty comfort. Some are old men who trace the sign of the cross on their chests before submerging into you, some are looking to you to hide their inhibitions and sexual gamings, some are drunks seeking solace from an all-nighter. You do not discriminate and welcome all.

I have spent years on the road attempting to tell the stories of others. In this time of COVID ‘lockdowns’ and seemingly unending up-endings of our lives, I have needed to slip into a more contemplative state; looking for a less literal and more visceral form of storytelling. This new ongoing series of ‘postcards’ from our Malta window and close by, onto the Mediterranean sea was born of the subconscious – a speechless full moon that nudges my conscious minds-eye to react – but whatever story there might be in the frame, is open to imagination, interpretation and meditation… Jason Floriophotographer/filmmaker

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In isolation between a ‘Rock and a Hot Place‘ - photojournalist Jason Florio, standing with his mum's dog, 'Space'. Image ©Helen Jones-Florio, April 2020
In isolation between aRock and a Hot Place‘ – photographer, Jason Florio, with his mum’s dog, ‘Space’. Our constant companion, during lockdown in the UK Image ©Helen Jones-Florio, April 2020

Current Location: September 2020 – Malta

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'The Day The Towers Fell - my 9/11 journey' Jason Florio: September 11th, 2001-people escaping Lower Manhattan, among the debris from the fallen World Trade Center Towers, NYC. Black and white image ©Jason Florio

‘The Day The Towers Fell – my 9/11 journey’ Jason Florio

September 11th, 2001-the North Tower on fire after the first plane hits, World Trade Center Towers, NYC. Black and white image ©Jason Florio
WATCH:September 11th, 2001-the North Tower on fire after the first plane hits, World Trade Center, NYC. Black and white image ©Jason Florio

The Day The Towers Fell – my 9/11 journey In August 2001 I went to Afghanistan to photograph a war – all was quiet. But when I returned to my home in New York City, in early September, the war came to me. Full interview Photography Daily Show 

9/11 – more images

September 11th, 2001-A New York City cop stands with his head down, among the debris from the fallen World Trade Center Towers, NYC. Black and white image ©Jason Florio
September 11th, 2001-A New York City cop stands with his head down, among the debris from the fallen World Trade Center Towers, NYC. image ©Jason Florio

The Day The Towers Fell – my 9/11 journey

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An Afghan Diary

…To follow the full story on Afghanistan (from my previous trip in 2000) we knew we also need it to head to the north-east to meet the Taliban opposition, the Northern Alliance, who controlled that portion of the country. This we could not do until a year later in August 2001.

Our first attempt to cross the border from Pakistan to the Northern Alliance area disguised as women wearing full covering burqas failed. We then spent the next three weeks organizing a ride into the country via Tajikistan on a Russian helicopter operated by the Northern Alliance… Jason Florio read/see more

Current Location: September 2020 – Malta

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The portrait of Ahmed Shah Massoud - 'The Lion of Panjshir' - in his camp in the mountains was taken shortly before he was killed. Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan. black and white portrait © Jason Florio, September 2001

‘The Lion of Panjshir’ – Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud

19 years ago, September 2001, I was in Afghanistan with Pepe Escobar. On returning to my home in New York City I got the news on Sept 10th that Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud – ‘The Lion of the Panjshir’ (header image) – who we had recently been a guest of, had been assassinated by Al Qaeda operatives posing at journalists. The following day I was standing next to the Twin Towers, in Lower Manhattan as they collapsed…

Northern Alliance fighters arriving by helicopter in the early hours of the morning, in the Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan. Image © Jason Florio, September 2001
Northern Alliance fighters arriving by helicopter, Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan. Image © Jason Florio, August/September 2001

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Young Taliban fighters, Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Image ©Jason Florio, August/September 2001

An Afghan Diary

My journey to the Taliban-controlled region of Afghanistan in August 2000 was in fact not planned. I was on my way to Kashmir to follow the ‘jihad trail’ when I got a call to join my colleague and writer Pepe Escobar, who was working on jihad stories on the Pakistan-Afghan border – he said: “This is (Afghanistan) where it’s really happening…”.

Crossing the Afghanistan-Pakistan border by foot at the Khyber pass we spent two weeks driving through the heart of Taliban-Afghanistan to try and get a clear understanding of who the Taliban were and how they held such sway over the populace. We felt we had dropped through a tear in the space-time fabric to the surreal land of corrupted ancient ideologies spouted from the mouths kohl-eyed men driving brand-new Toyota 4×4’s, where photography was outlawed – and because of which, we were arrested on two occasions… Jason Florio – read / see more images floriophoto.com

Current Location: September 2020 – Malta

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One The Vodun Trail - Benin. A voodoo priest with a python wrapped around his head, Temple of Pythons, Ouida, Benin, West Africa. Image ©Jason Florio

On The Vodun Trail – Benin. Images ©Jason Florio

On the Vudon Trail - Benin. A Voodoo temple at the stilted village of Ganvié, Lake Nokoue, Benin. The walls are decorated with voodoo symbols ©Jason Florio
A Voodoo temple at the stilted village of Ganvié, Lake Nokoue, Benin. The walls are decorated with voodoo symbols. Image ©Jason Florio / The New York Times

On the Vodun Trail – Vodun practitioners in Benin worship a pantheon of gods and lesser deities that inhabit objects ranging from stones to waterfalls. They believe that the spirits of their ancestors dwell among them, and they employ talismans, or “fetishes” like dried animal parts, for spiritual and physical rejuvenation as well as for protection against spells cast by malevolent sorcerers.

A Voodoo temple at the stilted village of Ganvié on Lake Nokoue, Benin. The Voodoo priest Salako Hannyi in his temple, Benin, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio
A Voodoo temple at the stilted . Voodoo priest, Salako Hannyi, in his temple, in the village of Ganvié on Lake Nokoue, Benin, West Africa. Image ©Jason Florio/The New York Times

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“Le vodun is Africa. It is the faith of our ancestors,” I was told by Dagbo Hounon Houna II, the spiritual chief of vodun in Benin, where 20 percent of the population, or a million people, practice pure vodun and another 40 percent embrace a form that incorporates Christian iconography. A retired civil servant in his 50s, he received me in a rondavel, a circular hut, inside a compound on the outskirts of Ouidah…

Excerpt from: ‘On the Vodun Trail’ in Benin Published in The New York Times Words by Joshua Hammer and photographs by Jason Florio

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One The Vodun Trail - At the entrance of the Thron voodoo temple in Ouida, Benin a small hole is dug where a package is placed at the Thron temple, Ouidah,Benin. Image ©Jason Florio
One The Vodun Trail – At the entrance of the Thron voodoo temple in Ouida, Benin, a small hole is dug where a package is placed. Image ©Jason Florio/ The New York Times
One The Vodun Trail - Benin.A priest at the Thron voodoo temple and devotees handle a wrapped object they call 'The Source' at the Thron temple, Ouidah,Benin. Image ©Jason Florio
One The Vodun Trail – A priest at the Thron voodoo temple and devotees handle a wrapped object they call ‘The Source’ at the Thron temple, Ouidah, Benin. Image ©Jason Florio/The New York Times

See more of these images by Jason Florio

A female voodoo devotee dances and sings, with others who beat drums at the Thron temple, Ouidah,Benin. Image ©Jason Florio
Voodoo devotees dance, sing and beat drums at the Thron temple, Ouidah,Benin. Image ©Jason Florio/The New York Times

Current Location: September 2020 – Malta

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