NOTHING PERSONAL

NOTHING PERSONAL

The back office of war

Publisher:  GHOST
Language: English
 
Photography: Nikita Teryoshin
Text:  Linda Åkerström
Design: GHOST

 

 
Almost everyday on the news we are watching pictures of war and destruction and the expenditure on armaments is setting new records year after year. Well, let‘s take a look at the other side of the subject – behind the curtains of global defence business. Nothing Personal shows the back office of war, which is the complete opposite of a battlefield: A oversized playground for adults with vine, fingerfood and shiny weapons. Dead bodies here are mannequins or pixels on screens of a huge number of simulators. Bazookas and machine guns are plugged into flatscreens and war action is staged in an artifical environment infront of a tribune full of high ranked guests, ministers, heads of states, generals and traders.

I deliberately don’t show you the faces of the business men. It is not my intention to fix everything upon a certain person. The anonymized traders with Weapons coming out of their Heads could be seen as a reference to John Heartfield’s anti war drawing from the 1930ies before the WW2 “Dangerous Dining Companions”. I like the Idea of this symbolism.

Nowadays companies use slogans like, ‘70 years defending peace’ or, ‘Engineering a better tomorrow.’ It is hard to imagine, that some people in the weapons industry believe these things. Still there is a remarkable quote from the inventor of the machine gun Richard Gatling that says: ‘It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine – a gun – which could, by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as 100, that it would, to a large extent, supersede the necessity of large armies and consequently, exposure to battle and disease be greatly diminished.’ His motivation was not to accelerate the process of killing, but to save lives by reducing the number of soldiers needed on the battlefield. The future Gatling wrought was not one of less bloodshed however, but unimaginably more. The Gatling gun laid the foundations for a new class of machine; the automatic weapon.

The pictures have been taken so far at 14 defence exhibitions between 2016 and 2020 in Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America (Poland, Belarus, South Korea, Germany, France, South Africa, China, United Arab Emirates, USA, Peru, Russia, Vietnam and India). The final goal of the project is to make pictures on every continent and to underline the global aspect of this very specific business and to publish as photo book. The project has been exhibited in Straßburg, France, Biel and Geneva in Switzerland and won the german VG Bildkunst research grant in 2018, PH Museum Grant in 2019, Miami Street Photography Festival 2019 first prize in Series, Kolga Tbilisi in 2020 first prize in Documentary and the World Press Photo 2020 first prize in the category Contemporary Issues and has been nominated for the picture of the year.

VITE STRAPPATE

VITE STRAPPATE

Publisher:  Phaos
Language: Italian

 

Photography: Enrico Quattrini
Editor: Massimo Siragusa
Text: Tommaso Baris

 
 
Central Italy, on May 12, 1944, the Allies, blocked for months on the Gustav line front, unleash Operation Diadem, the ultimate attempt to defeat the troops of the 10th Wehrmacht army, which had been settled on it.

At the 12,000 soldiers of the allied French Expeditionary Corps (CEF), under the command of General Juin, largely of Moroccan-Algerian origin, the so-called Goumiers, are given the arduous task of attacking along the steep slopes of the Aurunci mountains.
The goumiers, soldiers accustomed to fighting on the mountains, recognizable by their uniform, the “djellaba” and the long knife, the “koumia”, with which they slaughtered or mutilated the enemies, broke through the German resistance, thus opening up to all allied army on the way to Rome.
In the two weeks following the battle, which ended on 17 May with the fall of Esperia, the 7,000 surviving goumiers, soldiers who lived on looting, engaged in all sorts of violence, devastated and raided a vast area of Ciociaria (a large area in the south of Lazio), leaving behind a trail of violence, unprecedented thefts, rapes and killings of unarmed civilians.

Armed with the guarantee of impunity, the carte blanche they are said to have been granted by the French command, and the so-called right of prey and plunder, the Goumiers in a few days killed and raped over 20,000 women and men, aged between 8 and 85 years old.
However, the violence for those women would not have healed together with the wounds suffered or the healing of venereal diseases contracted. For those who survived there was a slow agony in the following years, due to their marginalization by a society that was not ready to understand the reality of the events.
The numerous victims of the Moroccan women were accused of having harmed the honor and dignity of their men, many were repudiated by their families or forced to suffer new violence and discrimination. The shame of what happened was such as to force them to hide what had happened, to flee from those places or to drive them to madness or suicide.

The young girls raped had suffered an even greater violence, considered corrupt or contaminated, they were precluded from the possibility of a future love and therefore of a motherhood, in essence the loss of a woman’s purpose.
Their lives had been taken from her in those two weeks of hell and nothing and no one would be able to give them back.

A story that, for a long time ignored and even minimized by the French authorities, remained etched only in the memory of the individuals who had the courage to tell it. Unfortunately, it too is a victim of a lack of historical and collective memory of our society.

SORRY FOR THE WAR

SORRY FOR THE WAR

Publisher:  Mass Books
Language: English – Arabic

 

Photography: Peter Van Agtmael
Design: Bonnie Briant Design

 

Sorry for the War chronicles the dissonance between perceptions of the post-9/11 wars in America, and the violence and upheaval of the wars as experienced by those trapped in the war zones. The photographs in Sorry for the War weave together the war in Iraq during the time of ISIS, the mass exodus of refugees to Europe, militarism, terrorism, nationalism, myth-making and propaganda. 

This is van Agtmael’s fourth book about the United States and the world after 9/11 and reflects a nation’s struggle to reckon with the chaos unleashed in the fear and anger that followed the World Trade Center attacks. The photographs are disturbing, darkly humorous, contradictory, mysterious and damning, serving as both evidence and interpretation of a country gone adrift, with often disastrous consequences.

An extensive text, in English and Arabic, combines journalism and personal reflection into a thorough narrative to accompany the nonlinear, poetic sequencing of the images.

ON CONTESTED TERRAIN

ON CONTESTED TERRAIN

Publisher: Aperture, 2020
Language: English

 

Photography: An-My Lê
Text: Lisa Sutcliffe and David Finkel
Interview: Viet Thanh Nguyen

 
 
An-My Lê: On Contested Terrain is the first comprehensive survey of the Vietnamese American artist, published on the occasion of a major exhibition organized by Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.

Drawing, in part, from her own experiences of the Vietnam War, Lê has created a body of work committed to expanding and complicating our understanding of the activities and motivations behind conflict and war. Throughout her thirty-year career, Lê has photographed noncombatant roles of active-duty service members, often on the sites of former battlefields, including those reserved for training or the reenactment of war, and those created as film sets.

This publication includes selections from her well-known series Viêt Nam, Small Wars, 29 Palms, and Events Ashore, in addition to never-before-seen images, including recent photographs from the US-Mexico border, formative early work, and lesser-known projects. Essays by the organizing curator Dan Leers and curator Lisa J. Sutcliffe, as well as a dialogue between Lê and Pulitzer Prize–winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen, address the ways in which Lê’s quiet, nuanced work complicates the landscapes of conflict that have long informed American identity.

Copublished by Aperture and Carnegie Museum of Art

UKRAINE RUNS THROUGH IT

UKRAINE RUNS THROUGH IT

Publisher:  Self published
Language: English

 

Photography and text: Justyna Mielnikiewicz

The original idea of Ukraine Runs Through It was to document the country away from daily politics with the Dnipro River as the metaphorical line of reference. When I started photographing in the spring of 2014, I had to adjust that concept. Witnessing the immediate and profound impact the revolution and the war had on people’s daily lives became an important element of my work, an inherent undercurrent in the river-themed project.

Mykola (Nikolai) Gogol in his essay titled “A Glance at the Composition of Little Russia” wrote that “much in history is decided by geography.” While in the past, the landscape has often served as a natural barrier to invaders, it is not really the case anymore.

Nevertheless, the Dnipro has often been portrayed as the demarcation line between the Ukrainian-speaking western part of the country and the Russian dominated eastern lands. Nowadays it’s a contrived perception, even more so now since the Maidan revolutions and the on-going war. Concept of Little Russia is buried in the past, replaced by country Ukraine.

The same goes for the fabricated issue of divisions based on language. Russian-speaking language rights were used as a pretext to divide people along a reinforced East-West line to instigate unrest. In reality many ethnic Ukrainians use Russian as their first language and a great number of ethnic Russians identify as Ukrainian patriots. Historically, the lingua franca of eastern Ukraine, in particular in its big industrial cities, tends to be Russian, while in the western part of the country, literary Ukrainian is more widely used. Yet in private and in the media people effortlessly mix both languages while speaking to each other as if there was one tongue.

My book covers a time that started at the end of the Revolution of Dignity, which I believe is one of the most compelling periods in the history of modern Ukraine. Few events since the fall of Communism in post-Soviet space have had such acute international ramifications involving both western Europe and the United States. What began as a protest against a corrupt government led to a new leadership but also war with Russia resulting in a massive transformation of society.

Ukrainians neither wanted nor expected that war. How they have coped with it is distinctive while also being a universal story of a nation’s struggle to deal with the turmoil which has been imposed on it.

The stories collected here are the record of a few individual experiences set on the background of central issues driving the transformation of the country and society.

MONTE CASSINO (CON AMORE)

MONTE CASSINO (CON AMORE)

Publisher:  T&T Publishing
Language: English

 

Photography and text: Steven Nestor

Monte Cassino: Con Amore is an exploration by Steven Nestor of the destruction of a small Italian town Monte Cassino and its monastery in the Second World War. Surviving copies of The Illustrated London News from 1944 lead Nestor on a journey to discover and record the last remaining traces of the devastation of the town and the Benedictine monastery built on the site of the original Abbey chosen and founded by St Benedict in the 6th century. Blending original material from his research archive alongside his own images, Nestor encourages the viewer to cross into an elusive but violent past. The photographic windows throughout this book look out onto a buried past that continues to inform and shape our present through the fragments that have survived destruction, the passage of time and a human quest to overcome disaster. This is a journey across unremarkable contemporary places and into their dark history: forlorn graffiti semaphores in a space once littered with casualties of battle, a collapsed street sign lies unnoticed on the edge of town and autumn’s mulch burns on the road that snakes its way up to the summit of worship and war.

Nestor’s use of a high-grain photographic film and an old Vrede Box camera transports the viewer back in time to the Italian town of Monte Cassino, the site of a significant and costly WWII battle and the legacy of that conflict. Fragments of images from original copies of The Illustrated London News along with sourced prints and negatives from the war and post-war periods are incorporated into this tapestry of destruction and loss. Together they reimpose and recharge often obscured photographic views from the time of the bombardment of Monte Cassino. Nestor’s work re-connects us with those faint traces of the past still present – just before we forget – as they are condemned to obscurity. His work is an affirmation of the power of photography to connect us with the past, not only of Monte Cassino, but with many sites of conflict throughout the world which are fast fading from living memory.

ORDER 7161

ORDER 7161

Publisher:  The Eriskay Connection
Language: English or German edition

 

Concept and photography: Marc Schroeder
Text: Dr. Heinke Fabritius, Marc Schroeder
Design: Rob van Hoesel

Supported by: Romanian Cultural Institute, National Cultural Fund of Luxembourg

On 16 December 1944 Stalin signed Order 7161ss, the secret command to “mobilise and detain all Germans capable of working, including men aged 17 to 45 years and women 18 to 30 years” from Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. Their subsequent deportation to forced labour camps was intended to help reconstruct the Soviet Union and was a form of reparations for the destruction caused by the Second World War. A total of 112,480 men and women were deported. The majority of them – 69,332 individuals – were Germans from Romania. Many deportees died from the harsh labour conditions in freezing temperatures and from insufficient nutrition. All those who had survived the hunger and misery were released in late 1949.

ORDER 7161 is a photo-text book by the Luxembourg photographer Marc Schroeder; throughout its chapters, it recounts the story of the deportation of Romanian Germans via a combination of witness portraits, archival and contextual images and lays bare the trauma of forced internment via an important selection of recorded testimonies by 40 survivors.

Meeting and photographing the survivors was a ‘last chance’ endeavour; many of the deportees Schroeder met were among the youngest in 1945 and most have, since their meeting, passed away. Apart from capturing the individual deportees’ memories about their forced internment, the encounters with survivors also enabled Schroeder to gain an insight into the German minority’s collective ‘cultural memory’ of this injustice and simultaneously to explore the delicate concept of ‘victimhood’ from the perspective of Germans with respect to World War II history.

Ultimately, this thought-provoking book not only bears witness to an often overlooked chapter of European history, but also stands as testimony to the meeting between photographer and each former deportee and reflects the empathic nature of their encounter and exchange.

In 2019, the dummy book was nominated for both the Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award (Arles) and the Unseen Dummy Award (Amsterdam).

Including an epilogue by Dr. Heinke Fabritius.

GRÜNE LINIE

GRÜNE LINIE

Printed: Grafiche dell’arte, 2019
Language: Italian, English
 

​Photography: Giancarlo Barzagli
Text: Wu Ming 2
Graphic design: Roberta Donatini
Curated by: Claudia Paladini
Cartography: Massimo Cingotti
Archive Images: Fototeca CIDRA Imola

 
 
Grüne Linie is a photographic research on the memory of the events in which a small valley in the Tuscan-Romagnolo Apennines played a crucial role, when it became part of the war front during World War II.
The project traces a line that connects History to the voices of those who fought and lived in those mountains, following the clues that were left on the region, somewhere in between childhood memories and memories of the conflict.
“Grüne Linie” was the name that the German Army had given to the Gothic Line: a strip of defences and fortifications, which ran along the Apennines, cutting Italy in two, from the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic coast. A line that wound through woods and villages, filled with stories of courage and fear, revenge and resistance.
Those stories left an indelible signs in the landscape and in the memory of the few remaining witnesses.

In July 1994, the 36th Brigade, the Garibaldi Bianconcini partisans, comprised of roughly 400 fighters, moved into the Rovigo River Valley in the Appenines between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, bunking down in the farmhouses scattered across the mountains. Although this area was at the centre of German manoeuvres fortifying the Gothic Line, the Command maintained that its impervious terrain would provide a safe place for its partisans and for organising sabotage operations.

SHAKY GROUND

SHAKY GROUND

Traces of the Great War at the Ypres Salient
Publisher:  the Eriskay Connection, 2021
Language: English, Dutch

 

​Photography: Peter Dekens
Design: Rob van Hoesel
Lythography: Rob van Hoesel

 
Peter Dekens’ earliest memory of the First World War dates back to 1979, aged 12. One of his cousins found an old, unexploded bombshell and tried to dismantle it. The explosive went off and he succumbed to his injuries later that same evening. 
Driving along the former front line in Ypres (Belgium) now it’s nearly impossible to imagine that one of the most horrific wars of all time was waged here one hundred years ago.

The traces of the Great War have been almost completely erased from the landscape, over the course of decades, hundreds of bunkers were removed. To this very day, human remains and projectiles are still found every time someone sticks a spade into the soil. Somewhere beneath the sod, tens of thousands of missing soldiers are presumed to lie undiscovered, along with hundreds of thousands of unexploded shells.
An estimated thirty per cent of the 1.5 billion bombshells fired during the First World War never went off. Some of the people who live in the area have developed a sixth sense for this hidden history: where tens of thousands of tourists and travellers pass by unknowing, the locals know that the slightest raise or dip in the road could be an indication that war remnants still lie uneasy beneath the earth.

For centuries, Europe was a divided continent with countless wars and infinite redefinitions of shared borders. It briefly seemed as though the First World War would be the very last, the “war to end all wars”. Ultimately, however, those years planted the first seeds of the Second World War. Long-lasting peace, prosperity and progress did not come to Europe until after 1945. The establishment of the European Community was envisioned as an affirmation of permanent peace in Europe. With the recent situation surrounding Brexit and the surge in nationalist, anti-European movements in various European countries, it seems that the awareness of the importance of unity stands on shaky ground again. The traces of a history of war seem to be fading rapidly from memory.

WAR SAND

WAR SAND

Publisher: Polygon, 2018
Language: English, French and German

 

​Photography: Donald Weber
Text: Larry Frolick, Kevin Robbie and Donald Weber
Design: Teun van der Heijden, Heijdens Karwei
Separations: Sebastiaan Hanekroot, Colour & Books

 
In this visionary collection of images, texts, and scientific data, photographer Donald Weber and his colleagues investigate the beaches of D-Day using the latest techniques of forensic analysis. What they find is something far larger than its microscopic constituents: War isn’t just a defining feature of our collective experience, but a quantum event, as well.
The war-relics presented here offer an immersive narrative on the theme of social memory. The assembled D-Day artifacts include WWII spy-craft and old Hollywood movies, dioramas and drone-mounted cameras, private post-war memoirs and wistful seaside photographs. They reveal our civilization’s longing for a final victory over death.
War Sand seeks a great truth: What is history? And what does it mean to us, its creators and survivors?