Photo research 'Iraq'
Images of desolation
How does one report on a war? The Lausanne photographer Mathias Bruggmann shows details from the conflict in Iraq. The first thing one expects from a photojournalist's report is probably that he should be as close to events as possible, but Mathias Bruggmann frequently distances himself from warlike activities. He set himself two tasks for the 'Iraq' photo-series from US-occupied Iraq in the throes of civil war: firstly to work on his photo-journalism and secondly to develop a personal view. So his pictures do show the anticipated burning oil-fields or soldiers at identity checks. But Bruggmann also takes unexpected, metaphorically charged pictures like the one of a broken mirror, or an architectural model that has been destroyed. Bruggmann also tries to reflect on the conditions of photography in the light of work by his professional colleagues. For example, one photograph shows the spotlights being set up before a TV team starts filming. A glance behind the scenes shows the omnipresent and rigorously monitored media machine, without which we would be unable to form a picture of this hotbed of conflict.
Abandoned room and devastated landscape are evidence of suffering and misery even if no people are included in the images. But they are present in other photographs, as refugees, or even as corpses. Bruggmann's series of photographs is not just committed to factual narrative, but also to atmospheric images that seem gloomy, almost apocalyptic. The photographer's eye, with its personal slant, forces the viewer to look at these pictures attentively. The independent pictorial language also takes the unusual presentation form of a pictorial mosaic in twelve parts. This series of photgraphs with its muted colour scheme can be read on several planes, which makes it into an exciting document of its times, but it is also a reflective photographic essay that will still be valid even when the events are in the past.