Saturday, 09 August 2008
The Globe-Erbil

"Houses of War" is the title of a photo exhibition by famous Kurdish photojournalist Safin Hamid. It depicts the lives of Kurdish families displaced by Turkish bombardments.

The black and white photos, now on display in Erbil city, show displaced families forced to live in tents. Their lives have come to a halt. They no longer even care what kind of clothes they wear-they just want to return to their original homes. But there is too much fear of Turkish military strikes on the border region to allow them to return.

Hamid, 35, told The Kurdish Globe that he chose colorless pictures because, in a time of war, colors disappear and everything turns to black and white due to smoke and disaster. He chose the title of his exhibition, "Houses of War," because tents replace real houses in wartime.

Kids in most of the photos are either smiling or laughing. Hamid said this shows that they are optimistic about returning to their original land and homes. The main aim of war and bombardment, he feels, is to separate people from their land.

"I hope one day these people can go back to their houses and villages; then I will go there to take their photos and open another exhibition under the title "Houses of Peace," said Hamid.

Hamid became a photographer in 1991, and in 2004 he started working as a photojournalist. He currently works for AFP and Kurdish Payamner news agency in Kurdistan Region. His photos have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Le Monde, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsweek.

He’s had several photo exhibitions, some of them joint exhibitions with other Kurdish photographers who are members of the Kurdistan Photographers Association. He has won gold, silver, and bronze awards, awards which allocated by Kurdistan Photographers Association.

Last year he opened an exhibition displaying subjects of the Yezidi religion. There were two distinctly different groups of photos: The first group depicted the aftermath of the bloodiest suicide explosion in Iraq in which more than 700 were killed or wounded; this occurred in the Sinjar area, which is inhabited by Yezidis.

The second group depicted Yezidis celebrating their feast in Lalsh in Duhok province, the holiest place of the Yezidi religion.

Hamid said he wanted to show the difference between the lives of Yezidis who are under the control of Baghdad and who face violence and insurgents’ threats, and Yezidis who live under the control of the Kurdish administration and who practice their religion freely and enjoy their rights.

Last year, he was invited by Italy’s Foreign Ministry, along with four other Iraqi Arab photographers, to open an exhibition in Italy depicting current Iraqi lives. There, Hamid displayed photos depicting religious tolerance toward Christians, Yazidis, Kakayees, and toward Islam in Kurdistan Region.