This is the first UK showing of Nick Danziger’s Eleven Women Facing War, a powerful exhibition about gender and conflict in the 21st century.
On display at IWM London, Danziger’s photographs capture the agonies and ambitions of eleven women living in modern-day conflict zones.
Having been commissioned by the International Committee of the Red Cross to photograph the women in 2001, Danziger wanted to learn what had become of their lives a decade on.
Setting out to re-photograph each woman in 2011, his exhibition features 33 photographs and eleven short films, from eight conflict zones throughout the world: Bosnia, Kosovo, Israel, Gaza, Hebron (West Bank), Sierra Leone, Columbia, and Afghanistan.
Each woman’s story is displayed its own section of the gallery. The exhibition juxtaposes the black and white photographs Danziger took of the women in 2001, with colour photographs taken of them in 2011.
The images are poignant and ripe for comparison: they allow the viewer to engage with and track the development of each individual’s life over time. But, collectively, his photographs also invite us to compare the women’s various experiences of war.
One of the stories featured is that of Mariatu, whose hands were forcibly amputated by guerrilla soldiers when she was just 13. She is one of thousands of victims of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front.
Struggling to recover from her trauma, Mariatu was first photographed by Danziger at a rehabilitation centre in Sierra Leone in 2001. Ten years on, he found her living in Canada, thanks to sponsorship from Unicef. She had also published an account of her experiences, titled The Bite of the Mango.
But not all the women featured in the exhibition have been so fortunate. Mah Bibi, whom Danziger met as a ten-year-old orphan when he first photographed her in Afghanistan, is the only woman he has since been unable to trace.
Despite her age, Danziger’s project defined Mah Bibi as a woman because she had been forced to take on the role of an adult, living with and independently caring for her two younger brothers. After a long, unsuccessful search, he established that she is thought to have died in 2006.
Commenting on his work, Danziger said, ‘We often talk about the victims of war. I hope these images and stories are a tribute to these women’s indomitable spirit, endurance, and bravery.’
Eleven Women Facing War is on display at IWM London from 4 February 2016 until 24 April 2016.
Suitable for ages 14+