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A pregnant woman who has managed to find one of the rare openings in the defense line is seen crossing the frontline at midnight. Doogrdkan (56 km south of Mosul), April 19, 2016. © Frédéric Lafargue for Paris Match. 1 / 3       A pregnant woman who has managed to find one of the rare openings in the defense line is seen crossing the frontline at midnight. Doogrdkan (56 km south of Mosul), April 19, 2016. © Frédéric Lafargue for Paris Match.

Members of the military police (Zeravani) led by Colonel Mustapha Hajer and who fought to regain control of Sinjar search everyone coming in from areas held by ISIS. Suicide attacks are often perpetrated by men pretending to be members of family groups. © Frédéric Lafargue for Paris Match. 2 / 3       Members of the military police (Zeravani) led by Colonel Mustapha Hajer and who fought to regain control of Sinjar search everyone coming in from areas held by ISIS. Suicide attacks are often perpetrated by men pretending to be members of family groups. © Frédéric Lafargue for Paris Match.

A young man found with families taken in by Kurdish fighters is suspected of being an ISIS fighter: his beard has been hastily cut with scissors, he speaks Arabic but not Kurdish, and what’s more with an accent. He is being taken aside. © Frédéric Lafargue for Paris Match. 3 / 3       A young man found with families taken in by Kurdish fighters is suspected of being an ISIS fighter: his beard has been hastily cut with scissors, he speaks Arabic but not Kurdish, and what’s more with an accent. He is being taken aside. © Frédéric Lafargue for Paris Match.

Escape from ISIS

Échapper à Daech (Escaping from ISIS) by Frédéric Lafargue is an exhibition that opens many questions and provides discreet confirmations at the same time. Let's start from the beginning. On the 13th November 2015, the town of Sinjar, in the northwest of Iraq after two years of occupation was freed from the Isis forces and, on the same day in Paris a terrorist group carries out its attack. That same day Frédéric Lafargue is right in Sinjar and cannot help but correlate the two events.

Frédéric Lafargue durante la visista alla sua mostra Échapper à Daech. © FPmag. Frédéric Lafargue during the visit to his exhibition Échapper à Daech. © FPmag.

«The events coinciding – says Frédéric Lafargue – produced a sensation I'd never felt before: the idea of feeling safer in Iraq than in Paris. I was worried about friends and family in France, and that had never happened before. Usually when I'm out in war zones, they're the ones worrying about me. Suddenly I felt a sense of closeness to the fighters combatting Isis. And there in war-torn Iraq they came to me and expressed compassion for the victims in France. While I was aware of it, it wasn't until then that I fully realized our enemy was one and the same».
A reaction more than understandable and human, in other words certainly not condemnable in view of the average citizen. But Frédéric Lafargue is not an ordinary citizen he is a photojournalist. As much as I feel is inevitable, for obvious reasons of cultural and ethnic background, close to his thoughts, I can not but wonder, given these statements, to what extent his work was performed with the presumption of neutrality that the journalistic profession would require in the events he was recounting. Of course I know (and we all know) that for a photojournalist who is documenting a conflict it is almost inevitable to take sides, like it or not, on one side or the other. Not only because in most cases this is the only way to be able to work to return home in one piece. But, if words have a meaning, the definition of enemy, that I share as a citizen from the west, is a pretty serious statement made by a journalist and, in my opinion, this requires the adoption of appropriate filters in the evaluation of his work. However, it is appreciable the effort of telling reality inevitably harsh and imbued with utmost distrust between the Kurds and those of Arabic origin.


Frédéric Lafargue durante la visista alla sua mostra Échapper à Daech. © FPmag. During the visit to the exhibition Échapper à Daech. © FPmag.

As for the evaluation of the work, (and here we leave doubts to get the confirmation of certainties already acquired during previous editions of the Visa pour l'Image) which in my view is almost impossible. Except for the remarks already made, the problem reappeared many times found when visiting the exhibitions here in Perpignan. If I can share the fact that it is the content, which must prevail and not the form, especially in the context of a photojournalistic circuit, the fact remains that the edition phase cannot be considered optional, especially when it is proposed more or less explicitly as the guiding light of world photojournalism. And, if one can overlook the fact that the way of presenting the images have stood still in its cliché for years, I find it totally unacceptable that the editing is carried out with such superficial and culpable carelessness. Of course we are in a world, that of photojournalism, which tends to the convergence of technologies, but building a sequence where at times it seems to find oneself in front of a film excerpt, or worse, a proofing sheet, it is inadmissible at these levels. The narrative level is redundant. The repetition of pairs of images and even triptychs do not add content. A similar sequence could be inserted in a selection to give to a newspaper to have more possibilities that the service is purchased, but (heck!) these nominally would be exhibitions. A flaw that is certainly not new in the economy of the Visa pour l'image, where major errors in the sequence add up seamlessly for years. A work, that presented by Frédéric Lafargue, who probably could get a lot more punch if the number of images had been halved and if entrust to someone in possession of some familiarity with the sequence. And let’s overlook the debatable, at least in the logical construction, of some captions.
And fortunately we are at a photojournalism festival... [ Sandro Iovine ]

- - -
ESCAPING FROM ISIS
by Frédéric Lafargue
Chappelle du Tiers-Ordre - Place de la Révolution Françiase, Perpignan (France)
27 August – 11 September 2016
admission fee: free entrance

_ _ _

[ INTERNAL RESOURCES ]
◉ [ FPtag ] VISA2016: the point of view of the editorial staff
[ meltingpot ] Echo Photojournalism and Visa 2016
[ events ] Visa pour l'Image 2016: an overview
[ video ] Dread and Dreams by Zalmaï
[ FPtag ] Visa pour l'Image 2015
[ FPtag ] Echo Photojournalism

[ EXTERNAL RESOURCES ]
Frédéric Lafargue
Visa pour l'image

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published on 2016-09-01 in NEWS / EXHIBITIONS

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