From Where Loss Comes

Charcoal Press is pleased to announce From Where Loss Comes, the first major monograph by Pradip Malde. Purchase the book

From Where Loss Comes is an unblinking look at how sacrifice and belonging are deeply rooted in the human experience. Sixty photographs and close to 9,000 words consider a pain and suffering that is private, sacrificial, and yet rattles against values that are thought of as being inalienable — our fundamental human rights. It is a story of the root causes of female genital cutting and mutilation (FGM/C).

Scar and Chaos, Msisi village, near Singida, Tanzania, 2018

Grece Robert suffered complications from being cut while an infant and had to undergo corrective surgery when she was eight. She met Jazira Ramadhani while at the hospital, who was also suffering from similar problems and going through corrective surgery.

In much of Africa and Southwest Asia, Female Genital Mutilation has been practiced for centuries. The exact origins of cutting are unknown and have evolved in disparate cultures as a tribal ritual, a rite of passage, or as a religious practice. For photographer Pradip Malde the practice of cutting is a symptom of a deeper cultural significance: “We have a huge genetic desire to protect ourselves through communities,” he says. “We want to clearly delineate and we want to protect ourselves from outsiders. And one way of building a psychological fence around those who are closest to us is by terrorizing them.”

What Was Ours, on Susuni Mountain, Wanchari clan, near Tarime, Tanzania, 2018

Prisca Marwa (left), who was recently cut, and her friend Dorcas Elias Langi, who ran away when she was about to be cut. At the insistence of her parents, Dorcas has been accepted back into the community. Both of them go to school together.

Entrance, on Susuni Mountain, Wanchari clan, near Tarime, Tanzania, 2018

A small stone marking an entrance to the sacred grove used for ceremonies leading up to genital cutting.

Separate, Together, Mundemu, Tanzania, 2017

Cutting trees, under which genital cutting procedures and ceremonies were performed.

From Where Loss Comes is Pradip Malde’s attempt to answer the question, “why do we inflict violence on those who are close to us in order for them to stay close to us.” Malde, who spent his early childhood in Tanzania, began this inquiry after visiting the country again in 2016. He met Sarah Mwaga (to whom the book is dedicated), a prominent anti-FGM/C activist, who showed Malde a hand-forged cutting tool. Together they conceived the idea of Malde using photographs of cutting tools as a means to document and educate within local communities. Malde, whose practice is often centered around community and violence, explains that he has always used photography, “as a healing process, and for setting up a stronger glue between members of a community.” 

Occlusion, Acacia Tortilis, Endala Site, Lake Manyara, Tanzania, 2018

“The spirits took me to a forest and showed me some herbs and how to use them to apply to FGM wounds to make them heal quickly. Then they told me to start the job immediately with close relatives.” Margareth Ngallya, a retired ngariba.

Ours is a Shield, Mtinko near Singida, Tanzania, 2018

Retired ngariba Amina Hadiya and anti-FGM activist Christowaja Japhet.

With the support of a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the University of the South and the Appalachian College Association, Malde traveled back and forth to Tanzania between 2017-2019. Through Sarah Mwaga, Malde was welcomed into his subjects’ lives with confidence. The majority of the women he photographed where ngarabi (Swahili for circumcisers) who now wanted to be a part of communal change. Along with each photograph Malde includes interviews, poems and notes from the field. The viewer is confronted with the impossible choice faced by these women: to lose a part of themselves and be in community, or remain whole and be an outcaste. Through the process of holding the book, of reading and viewing the image, Malde’s hope is that we “excavate the links between loss and love.” 

From Where Loss Comes was photographed with an 8×10 camera, then contact printed with the platinum-palladium printing-out process to achieve a unique and beautiful print.

For Malde, beauty is central to a communal path out of FGM/C and is embedded in the philosophy underpinning the work. “To be reminded of beauty through sensations of pleasure is much better then being reminded of being selfless and dedicated to others through pain,” he says, adding that,  “if loss comes from pain and suffering true hope and love comes from experiences of beauty.”

Maseriani Lenyirai, entering her home,

Big boulder with vulva-shaped petroglyphs at sunset.

Ngariba Amina Hamisi Majengo putting healing oil on the legs of Tatu Salimu after simulating a cutting.

Book Details:

First edition
Signed copies
Embossed linen
Swiss binding
92 pages
60 b&w photographs
10.5 x 14 inches

“From Where Loss Comes asks us to hold in the same visual space love and violence, sacrifice and gain, mutilation and beauty, personal loss and community belonging. In a deeply sensitive, sobering collection of photographs, Malde captures the humanity contained in a fundamentally inhumane practice and compels viewers to linger with their own self-reflection of how they may bring hurt even as they care.”

Dr. Linda Mayes

Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology and Director of the Yale Child Study Center.

”In its exploration of the wrenching subject of ritual female genital mutilation, Pradip Malde’s ‘From Where Loss Comes’ offers a masterful, resonant body of photographs notable for its solemnity as well as its rare sensitivity.”

Richard Rothman,

Professor, Artist

“The book itself is immaculately produced. It is utterly gorgeous. This speaks to the intent behind the image making and eventual transformation into book form. The attention to detail in all aspects of the book’s production is informed by sensitivity and even reverence toward the people documented.”

Kenneth Dickerman, The Washington Post

Photo assignment editor

““From Where Less Comes” is an example of a photobook where text and image are a perfect combine, where photos or text in isolation would probably leave you confounded. Malde writes with a distinctive voice, with verve, with feeling. His images speak with restrained passion. The amalgam of the two is what stamps this book as being different, authentic and powerful.”

Madhu Joseph-John, PhotoBook Journal, Issue #41

Photo assignment editor

“In this book of insightful portraits, Pradip Malde captures the viewer’s attention with their photographic beauty while taking a deeper look into one of humanities darkest practices. The perception and compassion of Malde’s eye is palpable.” — 

Meg Partridge

Director, Imogen Cunningham Trust