Iraq: Making Peace with Many Truths
Photos by Lorna Tychostup
Featured in Mountain Record 26.2, Winter 2007
“People are focusing on the mass graves in Iraq and not on the living.”
An Iraqi interpreter/friend said this to me in January 2005 while I was in Amman on my way into Iraq, the country he had just fled. Receiving death threats because he had dared to work with westerners, he was in fear of losing his life.
I have spoken to hundreds of Iraqis since my first journey to Iraq in the weeks before the war, but never have words rung so true. There he stood before me: a homeless man—caught between two worlds at war, wanting nothing more than to be in his own country, with his own family, settling down to a good meal under a peaceful sky.
In spite of the media’s self-righteous carrying on about the dead, to my friend it seemed that as one of the living, he had been forgotten simply because he was still alive. He was not a “sexy” image garnering headlines and world outrage. And in those instances when not forgotten, he could see how he was being used to prop up political agendas—both left and right.
My photographic intention while working in Iraq has always been to bring home the faces of the Iraqi people—to get them seen in as many places as possible. I call this project: “Targeting the Living.” These portraits are from a section titled “Making Peace With Many Truths.”
I am a person of peace—not a peace activist. My work is not intended to support any political agenda. After almost five years of close examination of the issues, and after spending five months on the ground in Iraq, I do not have an answer when asked the inescapable question, “Should the troops stay or leave?” The issues surrounding the war are incredibly complex and at times, unfathomable. In either case, Iraqis will die. I believe more so if US troops leave without an adequate security force in place. I also believe that action is best when grounded in understanding. My hope is that my work will inspire people to seek knowledge of Iraq and its people, and that they will come to understand the inherent complexities of the situation on a deeper level.
Lorna Tychostup is the senior editor for Chronogram magazine and a freelance journalist and photographer. Since 2003 she has been lecturing throughout the country, sharing her stories, experiences and photographs of Iraq and its people. For more information, please see www.lornatychostup.com. Lorna’s blog of her last visit to Iraq can be found at http://lornatycho.blogspot.com.