With An act of unspeakable violence “Un acte d’une violence indicible”, Matthias Bruggmann reveals the dark and fragmented face of the war in Syria. A collection of suffering and a cry to tell all the horror.
A black cover with these words alone: An act of unspeakable violence. Title of this courageous and precious work published by Editions Xavier Barral with the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne who decided, faced with the exceptional quality of this work, to dedicate an exhibition to his work. In 101 photographs ranging from 2012 to more recent times (2017), Matthias Bruggmann plunges us into the hell of war and what it causes as deverted trajectories, and sacrificed destinies. The book is a meandering into the heart of a broken world, where myriads of camps clash and where, in the middle, poor souls are trying to survive. Above all, it is the chronicle of a Syria we do not see, far from the media simplifications, with all the complexity of this country that never stops being bombed. First, there is horror. The bodies lying, the corpses grazed. The kid who is operated for a an explosive shell in his head and will not get through. These other children who are watching in the distance the explosion of a bomb in front of them. One catches the arm of another: he seems terrified. This attention to the children of this country in ruins allows us to remember that a generation was born in this “unspeakable violence”. Invisible too, because it creeps everywhere, even when you do not see it. A woman crosses a street and we cannot know what she’s going through without the caption that tells us that an explosive shell has just fallen a few minutes before. So we understand the ordeal of this simple act of crossing the street in Syria today.
Gradually, throughout the pages, the reader takes the measure of the complexity of the conflict and its ramifications that are carried to all strata of society. The book shows very well the injustice of inequality among citizens that has jumped up since the beginning of the war.The fragmented social space, today is like a body wounded by a shell, emaciated by the flood of violence suffered. Thus some individuals who support the regime continue to act as if nothing was happening while armed groups swarm here and there and are supported, for the most part, by external powers. Matthias Bruggmann’s book does not just scratch the surface of this reflection. Texts written by Syrian journalists and writers provide a profound analysis of the balance of power at work in the country as well as the complex structure of the conflict. They provide a precise and fair lighting that gives material to think beyond the photographs. We must really salute this alloy of words and images, unfortunately often neglected in photography books. Here, they are put side by side in an original architecture that resolutely raises the point. “As much as it is necessary to humanize monsters, it is important to never forget the monstrosity of humanity,” said Matthias Bruggmann at the end of his book. With him, we are not ready to forget.