This image from Sudan (used here with the photographer’s permission), which portrays a soldier of the northern regime’s army, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), dead, immersed in oil next to a leaking petroleum facility in Heglig, was taken by Magnum Photos member Dominic Nahr for TIME. The magazine ran it double truck end of April to open Alex Perry’s article titled Sudan’s Spiral Back to War. When Mikko and I saw it, we agreed it was one of the most visually and contextually striking images we’d seen in weeks – and so, it made sense for us to select it to kickstart our new monthly showcase.
Writing for TIME, Dominic explained how he came to photograph this dead soldier. “In Heglig, days before it was retaken by the northern army, I wandered over to the nearby oil installations hoping to capture photos of the destruction. There were bodies of dead northern soldiers all over the place. As I got closer to the pipeline I saw a corpse lying in a thick slick of oil, glistening in the sun. The soldier’s head was resting on his arms and I couldn’t see any injuries: it looked like he was sleeping.” Read more about it on the TIME Lightbox website.
We’ve asked Dominic to share with Photojournalism Links his personal feelings about the image. He had this to say: “When I see civilians that have been killed, my body aches, knowing that something horrible has happened. With soldiers it is slightly different. I had been photographing more than a dozen bodies that day, most of which were torn to pieces. You go into work mode, I remember I was photographing this body that almost didn’t look real, I framed it in a very direct way. When I got back to look at it I was shocked to see that I thought that would be an ok picture to have published or shown. It was very far from being useable. When I saw the body in the oil, i really thought the soldier looked like he was sleeping, so in a way it was a lot more calming than the other situations I had documented that day. It felt like for the moment I was there, time stopped.”