'Leave Us Alone' project reveals wounds of Iraq War
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
In the concept of the exhibition, the voice of each photographed Iraqi was recorded for five minutes. The wounded Iraqis introduce themselves and talk about their lives before and after the bomb. DHA photoPortraits and stories of Iraqis who were wounded by exploding bombs during the Iraq War will be revealed at an exhibition project titled “Leave Us Alone.” Established under the leadership of Turkish photographer Niko Guido, the exhibition will open on March 23 at a total of 31 venues in 22 Turkish provinces as well as in countries like Britain, India, Sweden and Turkish Cyprus.
Guido, the leader of the “No to War” project, was in Amman, Jordan in 2010 and 2011, photographing Iraqi civilians who had undergone plastic surgeries. In the concept of the exhibition, the voice of each photographed Iraqi was recorded by the artist for five minutes. In this recording, wounded Iraqis introduce themselves and talk about their lives “before the bomb” and how they were forever altered afterward. Underneath each photograph is an interview where the emotions of the Iraqi people regarding the photographs are documented.
“Let’s be clear: Our world is becoming nothing less than a photographic garbage bin. Our brains, fed by visual media, are not affected by powerful imagery as they used to be just a few years ago. It is getting harder every single day for the documentary photographer to draw attention to the problems of the world and humankind. It is for this very reason that we decided on an exhibition format in which we brought ‘the voices and the photographs’ together,” Guido says on the project website.
To create the project, Guido called for volunteers with contacts with local and international actors, art galleries, photography societies, universities, media organizations and anti-war societies.
“Although we live in a country where saying ‘no’ to war could be harmful and dangerous, there are nice people who accepted being a part of such a project without any hesitation and trying to do their best. ‘Leave Us Alone’ would remain a mere thought without those nice people,” Guido said, thanking the contributors and volunteers.
‘Just leave us alone’
The project takes its name from the words of an Iraqi who had more than 30 operations on his face, who told Guido, “We don’t want your civilization, money or modern living... Just leave us alone.”
“Leave Us Alone” is the largest photography exhibition to be opened simultaneously across the world, aiming to bring as many as people together as possible on the 10th anniversary of the war, Mach 23. Ataşehir Municipality Cemal Süreya Exhibition Hall will host the exhibition in Istanbul.
The other provinces to welcome the exhibition will be Ankara, Antalya, Aydın, Balıkesir, Bursa, Diyarbakır, Düzce, Edirne, Erzurum, Eskişehir, Gaziantep, Hatay, İzmir, Kahramanmaraş, Kayseri, Konya, Kırşehir, Kütahya, Mersin, Muğla, Nevşehir and Zonguldak in Turkey, as well as London, Bangalore, Nicosia and Stockholm. The 24-photo story can be listened to via special headphones in Turkish cities and will be transcribed next to each photo in the other countries’ exhibits.
About the artist
Niko Guido, a graduate of Boğazici University’s Faculty of Engineering, began taking photographs aged 40. His first photograph, which he took at Salt Lake and named “Water Muse,” outpaced
his competitors and won first place in a global competition. He has had solo exhibitions in Venice and Istanbul and his photographs have been published in many newspapers, books and magazines. In recent years, Guido has focused on taking documentary pictures.