Tag Archives: Almost Dawn in Libya

Almost Dawn in Libya: Exclusive Interactive Panorama

Almost Dawn in Libya, a collaborative project for which eight photographers raised money for four simultaneous Libyan exhibitions of photographs from the country’s conflict—as described here on LightBox—reached its fundraising goal of $40,000 and will be completed in the next few weeks. Photographer André Liohn, one of the guiding forces behind the initiative, spoke to LightBox from Misrata, Libya, where he was preparing for the installation in that city.

“That we finally have the pictures in our hands,” says Liohn, “is very exciting.”

Liohn estimates that they are about 80 percent done with printing the photographs for the shows, but the progress is dodged by remnants of the conflict that the exhibitions are intended to address. On the day before Liohn spoke to LightBox, militiamen seized control of the Tripoli airport. Elections are also on the horizon. It’s still unclear whether the other photographers who are part of the Almost Dawn project—Lynsey Addario, Eric Bouvet, Bryan Denton, Christopher Morris, Jehad Nga, Finbarr O’Reilly and Paolo Pellegrin—will have difficulty getting to Libya for the openings.

But, after everything endured by the photojournalists who captured the Libyan conflict on film, these obstacles are not overly daunting. Liohn says he’s ready to get the shows up and running, particularly because the people he meets in Libya are ready too. Despite—or perhaps because of—the trauma of war, they seem, to him, eager to help with the vision of healing through photography.

“We feel that the project is pretty much as much theirs as it’s ours,” says Liohn, citing the people who have donated both living space and expensive printing services. “To me, it’s very courageous that they are taking so much responsibility for making this happen.”

The Almost Dawn in Libya team has also provided LightBox with the panoramic view shown here, as designed by Paolo Pellegrin and curator Annalisa d’Angelo, which replicates the gallery set-up that will be seen in Libya. The lack of captions was part of the original vision for the project, meant to allow viewers to see past any divisions between Libyan regions and peoples. Although work remains to be done—unsurprisingly, considering the task of mounting four identical exhibitions across a still-scarred nation—the shows are expected to open in early July in four Libyan cities, Tripoli, Misurata, Benghazi and Zintan, with the goal of providing fodder for debate and discussion about the country’s future among those who come to see the photographs.

“They fear that Libya will not become a good country,” says Liohn. “Still they are not letting the fear keep them from making Libya into what they want.”

Learn more about Almost Dawn in Libya—and the photographers involved at their emphas.is fundraising page here.

Almost Dawn in Libya will be shown on the following schedule:

July 1 – Misurata – Goz-elteek-Hotel
July 4 – Benghazi – Benghazi Museum
July 10 – Tripoli – Dar Al Funnun  – Tripoli Art House
July 12 – Zintan – Zintan Media Center

You can also follow the exhibition’s progress at ADIL‘s Facebook page, here.

The Gallery as Public Square: ‘Almost Dawn in Libya’

The photographer André Liohn, who got an early start on covering the civil war in Libya and stayed in the country through the killing of Muammar Gaddafi, was recently asked not to use that term—civil war—to describe the conflict. Liohn had returned to Libya to introduce a project that he started with seven other photographers who covered the war-torn African nation last year. They call the project Almost Dawn in Libya, and through it they plan to exhibit their photographs of the war in the Libyan cities of Tripoli, Misurata, Benghazi and Zintan. But as Liohn was telling a young lawyer who had been active in promoting the revolution on the internet about their work, the photographer was confronted about his choice of words.

He responded that what he had seen seemed to fit his own conception of a civil war, but she told him that, to her, the conflict didn’t fit that category. “That you can come to us and challenge this concept that we have of it—that’s exactly what the project is for,” Liohn says.

The photographers behind Almost Dawn in Libya—also known as ADIL, an acronym that sounds like the Arabic word for justice—aim to use their work to help Libyans come to grips with what happened there in the past year, to turn galleries into spaces for public debate. They are not the first to think about what would happen if those who might appear in war photography got to see those pictures. Susan Sontag described in On Photography the way that a photographer can seize control of a narrative and Susan Meiselas’ In History examined the ethics of conflict photography in Central America in the 1970s and ‘80s. But, says Liohn, there’s a new factor in play these days.

“The Libyan revolution or the Arab spring, it’s probably the first time where victims of a violence were able to document their own suffering. Mobile phones, videos, graphic design have been extremely important to unify people. They did it through images,” he says. “But today the images that they created have lost the context of the violence.” Liohn says that, without that context, the images that were once a rallying cry have become a source of fragmentation: each city has its own images of how brave its people were or how much they suffered. By showing the same exhibit of 100 pictures, not sorted geographically or chronologically, in four different places at the exact same time, the ADIL team hopes that Libyans will be able to start a dialogue that is not divided by city.

And Liohn says that, through ADIL, the photographers involved will cede their control of the images. “We are not showing it to a public that never saw Libya,” he says. “We are actually exposing ourselves to the public.” Part of the project involves bringing the photographers back to speak to that public and hold workshops, though, so Liohn says that hearing dissent about the way Libya is portrayed is part of the point. The larger point, however, is that the people who see the exhibits may then be inspired to discuss the country’s direction.

“The people there are waking up from this kind of dream-nightmare situation,” says Liohn, “and no one actually knows how the day is going to be.”

Learn more about Almost Dawn in Libya—and the photographers involved (André Liohn, Lynsey Addario, Eric Bouvet, Bryan Denton, Christopher Morris, Jehad Nga, Finbarr O’Reilly and Paolo Pellegrin) at their emphas.is fundraising page here