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Friday, 2 November 2018

Pets, Fruit and Shrapnel: 5k from the Front Line

My second article on Anastasia Taylor-Lind and her work in Ukraine is up on Witness now. It's about the mapping of war, how people do that people do that psychologically, technically and how that determines how they see and experience the world. 
I think the point of it all is that the most interesting war photography does not show war in the way we traditionally think of it. War is a state of mind and it destroys from without and within.
In other words, mapping is not neutral territory. The references you use, the borders, the lines of control, the colours, what is shown or not shown — all of it carries a significance that extends beyond the map. Even eyeWitnesses’ time and GPS coordinates carry within them psychological, political and geographical assumptions that have embedded within them expressions of military and economic power.
This is something Taylor-Lind is aware of, and for her, the dilemma is how (in parallel with the more constrained mapping of the eyeWitness app) you can tell stories of people and places that are not usually told, but are absolutely central to how war affects the land, people, and daily life. How can you provide a new kind of mapping that is perhaps more human than that traditionally offered?
“Working with the app has forced us to think about how violations are taking place and how we can document that using not just the app, but also through the people who are living there,” she says.
Accompanied by Sopova, Taylor-Lind’s working process was to begin on the frontline photographing the shelling damage and then move away. And as she moved away, so the working process moved from the indexical precision of the eyeWitness to Atrocities app to something more personal, more narrative-based, that showed the psychological undertow of the war.
“We focus quite a lot on parents of young children and how parenting techniques are adapted in this environment,” she says.
“For example, what do parents tell their children the sounds of shelling are? Alisa started collecting these lists of what parents say: some people say it’s just thunder; other people say it’s the neighbours moving their furniture round; one mother and father we met said it’s a cloud exploding and when their daughter asked why does it explode, they said it’s because it was an angry cloud.”

Read the full article here. 

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