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The Missing Archive of Loss

28/04/2017

  The visual artist Azadeh Akhlaghi began documenting death in the wake of the 2009 uprising, when thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest the results of the presidential elections. She was particularly moved by the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, whose killing was captured on video and circulated widely. The visual documentation of unfathomable injustice, she thought, allowed supporters of the uprising to visualize and ultimately mourn their unfulfilled hopes for emancipation.   The Photograph as Gravestone   The footage of Neda’s shooting invited Akhlaghi to reflect on the power of visual archives and the implication of their absence on ­­mourning. She wondered... more
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Cinema of Death

31/01/2017

  The horizon splits the frame, a third of which unfolds destroyed cement buildings and then merges into the ruins. In the remaining two-thirds, purple-tinted clouds sink in the buildings immersed in black. The frame follows a path that leads to the destroyed buildings. From the depth of the ruins, a woman emerges. She’s wearing a black coat and a patterned veil and holding a bouquet of chrysanthemums. In slow steps, she proceeds to place the bouquet on a mound of ruins. She turns to the frame and says: The war is over.   It’s holiday. The ads of the film fill up... more
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Refyujee Brand

12/12/2016

  A girl in a white gown. We don’t see her face. On the bride’s right side stands another girl pinning her hair. Another pair of hands: one hand reaches out while the other holds the tip of the bride’s hair. In their midst there is an ordinary guy, probably in his forties, holding the back zipper of the dress. The closest character is indistinct; she, too, is wearing a white gown. We see her brown hair lock, her hands, and the white gown. This looks like an ordinary picture taken minutes before a wedding.   This picture circulated in western and Arab... more
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The boy and the sea

03/11/2016

    The story did not begin with the worldwide TV snatched image of the Syrian child Elan, thrown on the Turkish shores by the waves, and it definitely did not end with it. Once upon a time there was a boy who had joy in drawing the sea. One day, into the bottom of the sea he dove, in hope of escaping war and misery. Alas, he found himself trapped amongst swarms of screens that distorted his image and stole his story. No, the story did not end, images are still flowing and the world is still watching…     Director: Samer Ajouri Duration: 6:00 Year of production: 2016 Produced by:... more

Aylan and Omran, or the How the Age of their Image Ended

24/10/2016

  In black and white, the man in the picture clutches the truck window. He is charred. For some reason, the flames could not entirely erase his features, so it looks as though he is grinding his teeth, attempting to escape the burning vehicle. But fire was quicker and stronger, confining him as he wrestled with death until the last breath.   The man is an Iraqi soldier whose picture was taken on what is known as the Highway of Death, the road that connects Northern Kuwait to Southern Iraq. This is where, in the 1991 Gulf War, the Allied Forces stroke an... more
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A new Wave of Syrian Films Exposes the Failure of Images

19/09/2016

  In an increasingly appalling atmosphere of political stagnation, failed negotiations, and yet another ceasefire that won’t last, there is at least some good news coming out from Syria these days. A new wave of talented filmmakers is silently but powerfully emerging in the midst of a social media-driven compulsion to upload images nonstop and share them in real time.   In the immediate aftermath of the March 2011 uprising, Syrian activists and ordinary citizens have widely employed filmmaking to bear witness and denounce human rights abuses, in the hope that the sheer amount of visual media will provoke outrage and push the... more
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Syrian Victims Teaching the World Regret

05/09/2016

  On July 2, 2016, the Romanian-born American Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel died. As fate would have it, he witnessed in his lifetime another Holocaust; similar to the one he survived.   Although Wiesel is barely remembered, his death in 2016 reminds us that there have been major devastations, the danger and scale of which speak to what is happening today.   There are several differences between the two eras; between the time when Jews were unwillingly turned into a people and today, when an entire people is turned into the Jews of this century:... more
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Representing Refugees 2: A Blueprint for Navigating the Exterior

10/08/2016

  On their rafts plowing waters and waves, the escapees embark. Throughout their sea adventure, they forge their exterior. The deeper they penetrate it, the more it widens; the more they traverse it, the more it unfolds. At sea, they withdraw to themselves, beginning their lives on sweeping flowing land on which they live their seclusion. The sea grants them seclusion that allows them to navigate and conquer it by moving steadily on its surface. They cannot forego seclusion, for such act would lead them to the abyss; neither can they remain within it, because seclusion intensifies as the sea widens.... more
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Representing Refugees 1: The World Captures Escapees at Its Funeral

29/06/2016

  The picture in which Aylan Shenu appears reveals a glaring conundrum: From which direction did the child touch the shore? If from the sea, his corpse seems to deny it because it faces the water; if from the mainland, his wet clothes serve as a further reminder that their wearer died drowned.   The child touched the shore from both directions simultaneously, for he travelled land and sea and fell in their environment, their milieu. And since his body then longed for the water, it seemed as though both sides were behind him; as though he had avoided them. And as he... more
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“The icon of the Syrian diaspora: On the picture of the drowned child, Aylan

01/10/2015

  In the digital information age, examining this image (which constituted a major humanitarian event the minute it was released) is an attempt to analyse the image’s relationship with the social reality of a given group of people, with political events, and to understand the potential trajectories of the image within the media, while avoiding the dictates of the fast news cycle and the emotionalism of immediate response. The photograph of Aylan, the drowned child, was first released on September 2 and it continues to appear in various contexts. The latest issue of the Islamic State’s Dabiq magazine, which is also... more

The image of the oppressor and the image of the victim in war

02/04/2015

  Since the start of the Syrian revolution, debate has raged over the importance of the image, its potency and the different ways by which one can engage with it. In this article, we attempt to participate in this debate from a different angle: dealing with the power of the image, its aims, its audience and the ease (or difficulty) of accessing it, by reference to what is technically known as “hors champ” or “out of frame”—a concept that incorporates both the problem at hand and a means to solve it.     The power of the image   History tells us, unfortunately, that in wartime... more
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Revolution in Syria and the Birth of the Image-Event - by Jon Rich

25/06/2011

In March 1993, Kevin Carter took a photo of a starving Sudanese child crawling towards a UN relief camp less than a mile away. A few meters from the weary child stood a vulture, waiting for her death to begin his meal. Birds also must eat, and in southern Sudan they were eating because humans were not. Kevin Carter stood across from the vulture, lit a cigarette, and took his shot. Twenty minutes passed and the bird didn’t move, waiting in its place as the child continued to struggle towards the camp. They say that the child survived, but Kevin... more
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