” … the conflicts of 3 nations, deeply intertwined, fueled by rogue presidents, half a dozen fighting parties, mercenaries, bands of rebels, gangs and tribal militias – many still teenagers and kids, dazed by drugs they roam through the woods, plundering, torching and murdering … ” Bartholomaeus Grill, DIE ZEIT, 31/2001
During the civil war between 1996 and 2003, Charles Taylor’s ‘warlord system’ brought suffering beyond human reckoning to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Ivory Coast, with hundreds of thousands killed in massacres and millions of refugees and displaced. For ten years Portuguese journalist Pedro Rosa Mendes and German photographer Wolf Böwig traveled the region to document these West African wars. Their work has been recognized and published in newspapers and publications around the world, leading to a Pulitzer nomination in 2007. The resulting reportages are often snapshots of incomprehensible horror from all fronts of these wars, while at the same time a sensitive approach to the plight of traumatized victims and perpetrators alike. During their many years of collaboration, Mendes and Böwig kept asking themselves the same question over and over again: How to present the incomprehensible, the unspeakable, the unimaginable through word and image. Is it even possible to document the breakdown of what we consider human at the same restore some of the victims dignity? under the label “The Charles Taylor Wars”, an international lineup of illustrators and artists create a crossover version of the reports, merging illustration, photography and written word. Through the collaboration of artists, photographer, author as well as local eyewitnesses, Black.Light Project creates the fragments for 15 different stories in a series of workshops. The work will be presented in galleries and public venues on three continents, Europe, Africa and the United States and later on published in a book.
Black.Light Project aims at creating synergies and a transcontinental dialogue that goes far beyond of what traditional war correspondence can achieve. Photography, journalistic reports, graphics and popular comicbook style merge into one homogeneous non-linear storytelling, creating a new publishing medium of its own.