Tag Archives: Temptation

Syria’s Agony: The Photographs That Moved Them Most

Syria has always been a tough place to cover for journalists. Confidently authoritarian with a ruthlessly formidable security and intelligence apparatus, Syria has long been one of the most policed of Arab police states. So when some Syrians defied their government to take to the streets in the southern city of Dara‘a in March 2011, the temptation to cover the story was overwhelming for many, including myself.

The story of the Syrian uprising is ultimately the tale of regular citizens silencing the policeman in their heads, breaking their own personal barriers of fear to speak, to demonstrate, to demand, to reject, to no longer be afraid, to live in dignity. It’s about what these people will do, what they will endure, and what they are prepared to become to achieve their aims.

It is also the story of a significant portion of the population that considers the regime of President Bashar Assad the country’s best option, because they believe in its Baathist secular ideology or directly benefit from its patronage or don’t have confidence in Assad’s opponents and fear what may come next. Understanding what this segment of the population will accept in terms of state violence, the narratives they choose to believe and their concerns is a critical component of the story, though one that is harder to obtain, given the paucity of press visas issued by Damascus.

The only way to tell the Syrian story, really tell it, is to be on the ground with the men, women and children who are central to it, whether in Syria on in the neighboring states that many Syrians have fled to. It isn’t easy to do — the Committee to Protect Journalists, based in New York City, has dubbed Syria the “most dangerous place for journalists in the world” — but it is essential. Nothing beats being there. There is no compensating for seeing, feeling, touching, capturing, living the story.

The images here are a testament to the power of being on the ground, of sharing and capturing a moment for posterity, of translating an element of a person’s life through imagery.

Take a look at the photos. Can you place yourself in these situations? Can you imagine what it must be like? What do you feel when you look at the images? Are you drawn into them, or are you repulsed? Can you relate to them, or are they too alien? This is the power of translating on-the-ground reporting to an audience. This is why we must and will continue to document the Syrian uprising from inside the country when we can, and we — members of the foreign press corps — are not alone. Sadly, as is often the case, local journalists (both professional and citizen) have disproportionately borne the brunt of the casualties in this crisis. Still, this story is not about members of the media and what we go through to tell it; it’s about the Syrians who entrust their testimonies, their experiences, their hopes, their fears, their images to us in the hope that they will help explain what is happening in one of the most pivotal states in the Middle East.

—Rania Abouzeid


This collection of testimonies is the third in a series by TIME documenting iconic images of conflict. See “9/11: The Photographs That Moved Them Most” and “Afghanistan: The Photographs That Moved Them Most” for more.

Abouzeid is a Middle East correspondent for TIME. Reporting by Vaughn Wallace.



Review: The Japan Series by Andres Gefeller

AndreasGefeller_Japan.jpg

Andreas Gefeller has been well known for meticulously constructed images of the surfaces we walk on. For each of those images, he walks around with a digital cameras elevated with some contraption, taking the many source images that are then assembled on a computer. The results, visual surveys of small pieces of our world, often are startling and strange (see my review of a book filled with such images). Of course, I’ve been wondering where he would go from there, hoping he wouldn’t turn what has been very successful into something that would merely become a shtick (as the person not producing those images, of course, it’s easy for me to say that). (more)

Now we know: Instead of looking down, he started to look up. To be more precise, during a visit to Japan, Gefeller noticed the ubiquitous power and telephone lines, and he started to produce images of those. There’s one thing missing in the final images: The poles that hold those cables and boxes up. The absence of those poles immediately transforms the results into something as alien as Gefeller’s earlier images: Something is very familiar, yet it looks very strange.

Make no mistake, photographs of power lines have been taken before, by many different photographers (even I have a set of negatives floating around somewhere…). But Gefeller manages to take things to a different level. These new images have now been published as The Japan Series.

I imagine it must have been a huge temptation to produce a very glossy, shiny book of those electrical contraptions. It’s technology, after all, and we like our technology shiny and glossy. But the book is the complete opposite, using a thick cardboard for the covers and matte paper for the contents. It’s very interesting how this does yet another transformation, because the feel of the book is almost organic. Almost.

But just that fact that it’s not a shiny book gives the work such a different, other dimension. At times it even makes you forget a little that you are looking at photography. Of course, that is one of those crucial ingredients in photobook making: Knowing that even seemingly small choices can make a big difference.

The Japan Series, photographs by Andreas Gefeller, essays by Celina Lunsford, Christoph Schaden, 80 pages, Hatje Cantz, 2011

Food For Your Eyes Slideshow at F/Stop Festival, Leipzig on July 1stF


F/STOP International Photography Festival in Leipzig, Germany will host Food For Your Eyes Slideshow on July 1st during the opening of the main exhibtion ” Where do we go from here ? “

Food For Your Eyes Group Show Screening on July 1st at 9.00 pm at Alter Handelshof, Grimmaische Str. 1-7 / Leipzig Center

I’m delighted to present  Food For Your Eyes summer show program and highlighting ten visions to tell our world…and life.

This new photo- group slideshow features works by east, north and south europeans, americans and australian photographers : Jens Olof Lasthein , Alexander Gronsky, Jörg Brüggemann, Szabolcs Barakonyi, Juliana Beasley, Will Steacy,  Graham Miller,   Felix R. Cid,  Esther Levine & Flore-Aël Surun


ESTHER LEVINE Berlin 1999-2004

GRAHAM MILLER – Suburban Splendour

SZABOLCS BARAKONYI– Mine T ( a town without a mine)

FELIX R.CID – Bureaucraty of Love Stories

WILL STEACY – Down These Mean Streets

JENS LASTHEIN – White Sea Black Sea

JÖRG BRÜGGEMANN – Same Same But Diferent

JULIANA BEASLEY – Last Stop Rockaway Park

ALEXANDER GRONSKY – The Edge

FLORE-AÊL SURUN /Tendance Floue – Temptation for Peace