Life with the Bombs

By Nagham Haidar:

Halabja, 1988

Halabja, 1988

Life with the Bombs is a photographic project about places and people after war and it aims to show the physical and psychological effects of the destruction of war and chemical bombs in the Kurdistan Region.

The photographer Zardasht Osman has been working on the project for a year, researching places of war in both Northern and Eastern Kurdistan.

In this project, he has received help and artistic input from prominent artists like Awder Osman and Jamal Penjweny.

Osman states, “Chemical bombs are not new to Kurdish people, especially in cities such as Halabja, Sardasht, Sewsenan, Gotapa, Askar, Sargalu, Bargalu, Yaksamar and Balisan. This is because chemical bombs have created a fatal and deadly memory in the mind of each individual in these places.”

He says that these bombs have killed many people but the surviving family members are still living together with these bombs. The bombs have become members of the families, and they share the same history and memory with them.

The figures in the photos are people who survived the catastrophe and returned to their homes to continue their lives.

Awder Osman, an artist from Halabja and who provided artistic critique from the beginning of the project, says that, “The photos are combinations of life and death, of history and today. He also says, “Zardasht was able to tell history with a modern language that goes beyond words”.

He continues, “I believe it’s the artist job to help to give birth to ideas in the mind of the viewers, so the value of each artistic piece is created, not by the artist but by the viewers.”

“By going deep inside the everyday life of those people, to capture their natural poses, the movement of their bodies, their treatment of their husbands and their wives, the way they eat, and the way they drink, it all tells something about their psychology. After all there must be something to see in those people who went and are going through things many people cannot even imagine”.

The photographer Zardasht further explains, “The history that the bombs narrate makes March 16 to be their everyday life. The houses are now war museums since there is no official war museum in the region to narrate these tragedies that caused the death of many people.”

Zardasht said the idea of the project first came to him in the summer of 2013, and it will be finished by the end of 2014.

Nagham Haidar is an undergraduate student at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimanyah. She is originally from Halabja.

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