Photographer charts path of Arab Spring

Photographer charts path of Arab Spring

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Photographer charts path of Arab Spring

Italian photo journalist Loris Savino’s work is focused for several years on the Middle East, more specifically on the events that occured in countries that have been torn by ethnic and religious conflicts. The series is comprised of both videos and photographs.

An Italian photographer has opened a new exhibition in Istanbul, displaying his works which charted the progress and aftermath of the Arab Spring in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

Unlike many of his colleagues, Loris Salvino used film instead of the digital medium to record the events of the broad changes in North Africa over a five-month period in 2011. His photos have now gone on display as part of the “The Betweenlands Project,” which opened Nov. 2 at the Poligon Exhibition Center in Istanbul’s Galata neighborhood.

Salvino said he had been working in the Middle East for international press and magazines since 2005. “So when the revolution started in Cairo, it was quite normal for me to go there directly. But this time I decided to go for my own project and I decided to change everything: I decided to use film instead of digital.”

Salvino went to Cairo in February 2011 when the uprising started and shot the demonstrations in Tahrir Square with film.

“Then I went to Libya just three days before the NATO bombings started. I was there when the NATO shelling took place,” Salvino said.


Loris Salvino, DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The photographer witnessed the aftermath of the revolution in Tunisia and also traveled to the Italian island of Lampedusa to take photographs of the thousands of Tunisian refugees who escaped to the island during the war.

“Lampedusa is an Italian island very close to Tunisia. When I went there, what I saw was incredible. There were thousands of people waiting and sleeping everywhere on this really small island,” Salvino said.

Salvino also took the pictures of the Tunisian refugees who wanted to cross the border from the Italian town of Ventimiglia to France and who were sent back to Italy by French police at the border.

“The scenery at the border was incredible. At the end of the day, this is not a project about news events, this is like a road trip through the contemporary history of several Mediterranean countries,” Salvino said.

However, Salvino said he did not believe in the common definitions of the Arab Spring. “I believe in the power of people, but I don’t believe in the Arab Spring. There are two levels of this phenomenon; the first level is the power of the people, and witnessing such a revolution was amazing. But the other level is the political level which I believe is fake,” Salvino said.

Salvino’s pictures also move beyond the typical, stock shots showing militants showing during times of war. “All the pictures that were taken by war correspondents from the beginning of the revolution were showing the people. I wanted to show something more iconic on what the war is really about.

Sometimes war is just a wall showing [Moammar] Gadhafi’s picture that is riddled all over the face. In Libya, for instance, it was so easy to take pictures of people shooting because they were shooting everywhere for journalists. I wanted to show the other side of the war, I wanted to show what is left behind after the war,” Salvino said.

Salvino’s next step will be Syria. “I am waiting for things to calm down in Syria; I am not in a hurry, I want to show the traces of the war,” he said.