From Finland. Lives and works in Oulu.
Messages from Afar
After the war, when the media coverage gets more and more sparse, it feels like Mosul and its people no longer exist. There are ruins covered with smoke, streets filled with danger and rooms with stacks of bodies. People are traumatized by mock executions, violins buried in their backyards and packed suitcases waiting for the inevitable escape. As a city, Mosul often raises fear – but there is also hope.
For Janne Körkkö, this hope means determinate women, fearless artists, small business owners who have returned to the city and the openness and kindness these people express to foreign visitors. The photo series ”Messages from Afar” was born from his passion to see and understand things from a different perspective. Körkkö wants to see what’s behind the façade, in the places the mainstream media has already withdrawn from.
Although the photos are sharp and documentary in nature, they are also poetic contemplations of fear, loneliness and hope. The photos represent life as it is and thus have the ability to grab the viewer’s mind and transport them to the living rooms of real people. During Körkkö’s journeys in Iraq, he’s come to understand what a sense of community truly means. He’s also had the chance to see inside these tightly-knit local communities, to visit the societies of cultural figures who risked their lives during the ISIL occupation by continuing to produce their art in secret on the far edges of the city.
To the poets, musicians, minorities, and liberal thinkers of Mosul, the occupation era represented a return to the dark ages. The remains of that era can still be seen in their artworks today. Körkkö’s photo series gives the viewer a chance to experience the atmosphere of smoke-filled theatres, to feel the passion of the local artists and to hear the stories that are hidden in the streets. A crisis often gives birth to something new and this has been the case for me in Mosul. Let’s give these messages from Afar a chance to change our world.