I was asking Inan and his cousin Ali about where their village is in Kayseri. The language barrier is hard to get by with Ali as his English isn’t the best, so I decided to pull my laptop out and asked him to show me his village. I opened up google maps for him to type in/locate his town. He’s a slow typer, so I quickly went to the loo, I came back to see him with the biggest grin on his face with YouTube open with a video playing with traditional Turkish music playing over a slideshow of images. He looked at me so happy and said “look Matt, this … my dad and brother” with the biggest grin on his face. This is the video he opened up.
And this is his father/brother he was pointing at.
It was really eyeopening to see how happy he got seeing his family online and he proceeded to sing the music playing in the background as he got back to work. I asked him when he last saw them and he said he goes back once a year, so I imagine seeing the video brings back some good memories.
At this point, Inan’s uncle walked by and saw the video, I then asked him to show me on google maps the village he lived in. Again the language barrier was hard to overcome as he doesn’t really speak english, at all really. So it took a while to find the location with myself controlling the mouse and he would just point up and down trying to direct me down the road. I thought, shit I better get a snap of this, as I knew he would never agree to being photographed. So I grabbed this quick snapshot. Thankfully at the momment I did, he had found his village and was pointing at exactly where his house is.
Here’s the location of the town, followed by the map of Kurdish locations and conflicts surrounding the Syrian border on the NYTimes article.
A great Essay/paper by Liam Devlin on analysing the work of Susan Meiselas’s photography on Kurdistan in the early 90’s. (as seen in the link before this, titled: ‘Documentary photographer speaks on the tragic history of Kurdistan’. The essay goes on to examine the role Documentary photographs have and the ideology within them. (I wish I had found this essay when I was doing my dissetation). One key sentance that I felt describes this essay clearly is: “The notion of a visual and aesthetic aspect to political debate is of course a founding rationale for the role of documentary or concerned photographic practice, relying initially on the images supposed veracity. Susan Meiselas’ own career can be read as a series of exemplary examples of the transformations that documentary photography, have witnessed over the past thirty years. As we can trace how Meiselas’ projects have evolved and transformed from the role of ‘bearing witness’ photographically from within conflicts suchas Nicaragua in the late 1970’s (see figure 1) to the collection and construction of a living growing archive of imagery and personal testimony for the non-existent state of Kurdistan.”
Susan Meiselas, an American born photographer created this archivale body of work on Kurdistan during the 1990’s, capturing what was left of Kurdistan after the conflicts with Iraq. She creates almost a seemless timeline of events from her visits. Starting off in the present day (90’s) which then jumps to memeories of the past with her images of vintage photographs, looking at, the men who shaped Kurdish life. She looks at the relationship to these olden day images which are carried by Kurdish men and how their meanings transpire. She then dives deeped to look at the historical images and origins of the Kurds. She also then goes on to show her working, creating the book, creating the website which help inform the project and teach about Kurdistan. But i’m more interested in her actual photographs.
The imagery is intense and powerful, capturing sorrow and greavence in its purest form. Her images of mass graves and forgotten possessions, such as clothes in those graves send a chill down the spine, showing a glimpse and harsh reality of what was once Kurdistan. She comments: “Although few Western observers had been inside northern Iraq for nearly a decade, reports periodically leaked out through the Kurdish network about Saddam Hussein’s 1988 “Anfal” campaign, a brutal attempt at annihilation. Nearly 100,000 Kurds were said to have “disappeared.” After reports that mass graves had been uncovered inside the Kurdish enclave, the group Human Rights Watch sent a mission into the territory to investigate. It was an opportune moment, since no one knew just how long it would take Saddam to regain military strength and reassert control over the region”.
At Sardaw, a former Iraqi military headquarters on the outskirts of Sulaimaniya, trench graves are dug up to reveal the remains of executed Iranian prisoners of war. A total of 18 Iranian soldiers were found executed in violation of the Geneva Conventions. An additional 13 civilians were found buried beside them. Northern Iraq, 1991
Widow at mass grave found in Koreme. Northern Iraq, June 1992
Dr. Clyde Snow, internationally known forensic anthropologist, holds the blindfolded skull of an executed male teenager estimated to be between 15-18 years old. The skull was found with two bullet holes in his head. Northern Iraq, December 1991
Children’s graves. Iraq, 1992
Kurdish men look closely at clothes left on top of graves, marking unidentified bones exhumed below. Arbil cemetery, June 1992
Jim Mortram, one of the UK’s best storytellers and documentary photographers if you ask me. Jim documents peoples lives on a very intimate, personal level with people who he often just passes by on the street. Earning their trust and confidence to confine their problems and sorrows within him and to his camera. Jims work captures the emotions and struggles ordinary people face everyday. What I enjoy about his work, adepuetly named Small Town Inertia is his intimacy and ability to tell stories through the power of photography. I often wonder when seeing Jims work how on earth he got such comfortability with his subjects to allow him to photograph is such a private and personal level.
This particular body of work follows an elderly gentleman David who has lost his sight who unfortunately looses his mother. The body of work is call The Final Goodbye. A heart-warming and extremely moving series of images, accompanied by text of davids life without sight going through the loss of his close mother. Incredibly moving story and fantastic imagery creates an outstanding body of work. I love the way Jim photographs, wide angle, use of natural light, high contrast black and whites. The wideness of the frame gives us much more context within the images to better understand the surroundings of each image. It also makes the viewer slow down and scan the image for more clues/information to support the story such as photographs on the wall, decorations and even the style of wallpaper, all things which we need to use as clues to fully understand and mentally break down in our minds the location and context of the images.
I feel Jims work here is pretty relate able with what I am trying to achieve. A sense of finding one self, an explanation of someone else’s life that isn’t you own. Looking at one persons story and trying to convey that into the world the best you can. That is what Jim has achieved here which is magnificent and is what I am also trying to do with my work.