Bubriski photographs pre-war Syria to remember and "move on"

Bubriski photographs pre-war Syria to remember and "move on"

The American photographer Kevin Bubriski, who has just published a book of snapshots captured in Syria before the outbreak of the civil war, tells Efe in an interview that he would like the beauty of its monuments to give strength to the Syrians "to move on" .

The ruins of the legendary Palmyra still standing, the soap and spice merchants of the labyrinthine souks of Aleppo, when in 2003 nobody could imagine that the bombing would reduce them to rubble, or the remains of the Church of San Simeon were recorded forever in the goal of Bubriski, a lover of black and white photography.

"I hope that people, especially the Syrians, will be proud of their historical culture, that will give them strength to remember the beauty of their country to move forward," says Bubriski, who explains feeling "fortunate" and "grateful" for having been able to photograph the magic of Syria, where the beginning of the war fulfilled this Friday its tragic eighth anniversary.

The book, entitled "Legacy in Stone, Syria Before War", has been edited by PowerHouse Books and brings together 100 black and white photographs that were not released until last year by different reasons, as explained by its author.

It was the month of November 2003, when the cold of autumn begins to be noticed in Syria, and shortly after the beginning of the American invasion of neighboring Iraq, when the photographer settled in the small town of Shaftsbury, in the state of Vermont , had the "luck" of "living the adventure" of touring the country to photograph it.

With his Hasselblad camera, his phlegm and his determination to face life with "a healthy attitude" and to capture beauty, Bubriski (1954) traveled to the Byzantine Dead Cities of northern Syria, to the Umayyad palaces of the central desert and to the magnificent Apamea.

Among all the monuments visited, highlights the ruins of the Church of San Simeon, and wonders how a "world architectural monument like this is not known by many people."

Also Palmira, the capital where the mythical Zenobia ruled in the third century and whose ruins viciously destroyed the hosts of the fanatic Abu Bakr el Bagdadi, after conquering it twice, in May 2015 and December 2016.

In the nostalgic 1x1 images of Bubriski still stands the temple of Bel, dynamited by the terrorist group Islamic State, the triumphal arch or the tetrapilo of the city, which one day shined with its own light on the silk route.

Among its ruins, the artist rambled for four days, alone, ten hours each day, with a little water, something to nibble on and his camera to capture the attractive dream of his story.

In Aleppo, considered by many the oldest commercial city, the human presence takes center stage with its merchants of wedding dresses or of all kinds of ropes, their students of religion or businessmen.

There, Abdala Abdelahi, a man he met through his now unrecognizable souks, guided him. But Bubriski says he has no contact with the people he contacted there and that all Syrians he knows no longer live in that Syria or today, where division and war are far from over.

She says that the different commitments, other jobs and her personal life did not allow her to publish her work after the trip. After the outbreak of the war, friends and colleagues encouraged him to spread it, but the circumstances were not conducive until 2015, when the project began to move forward until it saw the light.

He is thrilled to not find the words to describe today's Syria, the indifference to culture, to the historical legacy and to human lives: "It is unimaginable, a tragedy".

But he would like to return to the country imprisoned in his photographs, although he has no plans for it, to capture "the deep pain" of his people because, as he confesses, as a documentary photographer "I want to believe in the power of photography, in its ability to create bridges and understanding among people. "

Bubriski worked as a photographer for years in Nepal and also made reports on trips to India, Tibet and Bangladesh, a trajectory that earned him different awards. His work has appeared on several occasions in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.


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