Almost Dawn in Libyalooks towards the future with a collection of photographs made by seven photojournalists – André Liohn, Lynsey Addario, Eric Bouvet, Bryan Denton, Christopher Morris, Jehad Nga, Finbarr O’Reilly – during the war in 2011 in Libya.
Under the determined leadership of Liohn, the curatorial guidance of Paolo Pellegrin and the editorial prowess of Gaia Mazzolini with the Prospekt Photographers agency, this exhibition is not destined for galleries in London, Milan or New York but rather for the walls of buildings in Libya and for the Libyan people themselves.
Four simultaneous exhibitions will be held in Libyan cities in the late Spring of this year: Benghazi, Misrata, Tripoli and Zintan. Their goal is to foster dialogue, and through the images, made on both sides of the conflict – from the rebel advance in the east to the loyalist Gadhafi brigades in Tripoli and the west – the photographers and their local partners are literally gifting the photographs to the Libyan people so that they can become part of the nation’s record of “what happened here”. But ADIL is also very much a living document that speaks to the future of the country, as a tool for many voices to be heard in the current debate. In this way Almost Dawn in Libya concerns itself with reconciliation and utilising the power of photography to usher in a brighter future. The word itself, Adil, is an Arabic name derived from the Arabic word “Adl” which means “fairness” and “justice”.
When I met with Liohn in London earlier this month we discussed the events that he and his fellow photographers had documented in the lead up to the overthrow of Gadhafi’s rule. Amongst our community in photojournalism not one of us was left unaffected by the terrible news of the injuries and deaths of our friends covering the conflict.
Photographs from Libya seemed, to me, forever to be proof of everything that had been wasted in this war. In meeting Liohn and learning about the work he and his fellow photographers are doing to return these images to Libya, I believe I do see a dawn almost breaking over the horizon. The drive and determination of photojournalists to report the news, often at great sacrifice to themselves and their families, does not end with the conclusion of a war, the burial of a friend or the persistent obstacle of public indifference.
Below is a selection of images from the project and also, most hauntingly, a short clip filmed by Liohn who was working with a local ambulance driver in Misrata on 20 April 2011. In the desparate rush to evacuate families who had been kept as human shields by Gadhafi’s forces in a residential area of the city we see in his footage three photographers running to the scene. They are Tim Hetherington, Chris Hondros and Guy Martin. Within a few hours of making this video Hondros and Hetherington were dead and Martin injured by mortars fired from the government side.
VIDEO (opens in pop-up window): Misrata, April 20th 2011, courtesy André Liohn
To see them now in these shaky pictures, exactly a year later, is a stark and painful reminder, if one were needed, of what we have lost, what has been given and how much we should support the work of the photographers like those who make projects like ADIL happen, whilst we remember to treasure each of our own new dawns.
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Account Name: ADIL
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05 March 2011 – Opposition troops take positions as they push west outside of Ras Lanuf after taking the city back from troops loyal to Qaddafi in Ras Lanuf, in Eastern Libya. Dangerous confrontations have been going on between opposition forces and those loyal to Col. Qaddafi across Libya. Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
29 April 2011 – Misrata, Libya. Smoke billows from a shoe factor on the frontline near the airport, with the bombed out remains of buildings on Tripoli Street in the foreground. Rebel forces continued to battle Qadafi regime troops in Misrata Friday, battling in the west on the road to ad-Dafniyeh after a Qadafi attack in the morning hours, and in the south west, near the airport, which Qadafi’s forces still occupy. Bryan Denton/Corbis
11 March 2011 – Opposition troops burn tires to use as cover during heavy fighting, shelling, and airstrikes near the main checkpoint near the refinery in Ras Lanuf as rebel forces pull back from Ras Lanuf, in Eastern Libya. Qaddafi’s troops have been advancing East, and re-taking territory that had previously fallen to the rebels, as they batter the rebels with artillery and air strikes. Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
Aisha Gaddaffi, daughter of Muammar Gaddaffi , is surrounded by Loyalist supporters in her fathers compound, the day the air war started. Christopher Morris/VII
31 March 2011 – A Libyan government tank destroyed by Western air strikes sits beside the coastal highway near Ajdabiyah in eastern Libya. The exact position of the front line is difficult to know in a war of rapid movements in both directions across open desert, but one constant is the presence of the road, along which Libya’s revolution has travelled, as each side advances and retreats across vast distances, leaving behind a wake of destruction and death. Finbarr O’Reilly’Reuters
20 March 2011 – The remains of a Muammar Gaddafi loyalist soldier lies under blanket after French airstrikes on the outskirts of Benghazi in northeastern Libya. Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters
15 April 2011 – Trying, in vain, to save the life of a rebel fighter. Bryan Denton/Corbis
Rebels preparing to invade a house occupied by government soldiers in downtown Misrata. André Liohn/Prospekt
23 August 2011 – After six months the rebels reached Tripoli and succeeded in overrunning Bab al-Aziziya, the compound of embattled leader Gadhafi. Eric Bouvet/VII
14 March 2011 – Evening prayers next to a portrait of Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi, in the lobby of a hotel in which a press conference by tribal leaders was taking place in Tripoli, Libya. Christopher Morris/VII
Rebels entering the city of Sirte the final major stronghold of Gaddafi loyalists. During the battle Sirte was left almost completely in ruins, with many buildings totally destroyed or damaged. The Ibn Sina Hospital came under fire and was attacked, several explosions destroyed most of the hospital’s dependencies. The main operating room and most of the windows were also damaged. As a result of the weeks of fighting, patients had to be moved into the corridors. André Liohn/Prospekt
23 August 201 – After six months the rebels reached Tripoli and succeeded in overrunning Bab al-Aziziya, the compound of embattled leader Gadhafi. Eric Bouvet/VII
Tawerga, Libya. Jehad Nga.
Boy on the shore. Jehad Nga.
Special thanks to the photo agencies: VII, Corbis, Prospekt, Reuters.
“ADIL-Almost Dawn in Libya” in memory of the photojournalists Tim Hetherington, Chris Hondros and Anton Hammerl.