Behind Basra

The last exhibition I saw at the Bargehouse was all about how delightful Sardinia is and wouldn’t you like to visit us soon? This one’s about Basra. In Iraq. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

It’s the work of a single photographer – Essam al-Sudani – working on a DFID commission and it aims to present the ‘real lives’ of the people of Basra. Not being a Basran I can’t say how successful it is.

The images in the exhibition, and there are probably about twice as many as there need to be, are presented without text to explain the who, what, where, when and why. This is a bit annoying as given that ‘we’ have been defending liberty in Iraq for six years now it would be useful to know which are the more recent pictures.

That said, the majority are interesting and there is one absolute stand out – two women in Muslim dress walk down the road, on one side an armoured vehicle of the occupation, on the other a man selling a vanload of mangoes. All aspects of life captured in a single frame.

The comments book is worth reading as you leave. It seems that for a lot of people it’s been eye opening to see that there is a normal life in the middle east – away from suicide bombers, occupying forces and jihad.

I think I’d still rather holiday in Sardinia though.

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