art of resistance, Iraq

What We Carried: Fragments From The Cradle of Civilization.

What We Carried: Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization is a photography project by Jim Lommasson. Through photography, Lommasson asked Iraqi refugees to share an item that accompanied them during their immigration to America, and to express what it means to them. Going through this powerful collection of images, I thought of one Waltz With Bashir moment – “Memory takes us where we need to go.”

144“The picture on the phone is my house in Baghdad. This means home for us. This phone has all the numbers of our friends and relatives in Iraq as well as pictures.”

765“I want to ask my country ‘Iraq’ when we will get some rest. Shall we spend tears on our current circumstance or should we cry for the past. We have been carrying our miseries for long time on our chests. Strangers from around the world occupied our land and they kill our people for a very cheap price. We are tired, we are tired and we want to get some rest.”

980“My best friend Sheema’a. She means a lot to me and was the closest person to me I couldn’t leave her photo behind.”

11Many times simple things seem nothing to others while it means everything to you. A scarf, not a fancy once or so special this one might seem. I take it with me where ever I travel. A scarf is all what I have now of my soulmate whom I lost my smile and happiness since I lost him. (it belongs to my killed brother). Not such along story, again sectarian war took my brother like so many other Iraqis. Whenever I take this scarf in between my hands, I close my eyes and hug it close to my heart. Thinking about it as it used to embrace my beloved brothers neck and chest. Wish I was a scarf (this scarf) so I could be as much as I can close to the one I lost!”

12344“Without ‘Nana’ (means mother in Trukmani language) there would be no Samir. When I was drawing on the walls, cabinet, doors, clothing and other things in my house my mother was spanking me and beat me so hard. That’s motivated me to be an artist. We lived such a difficult life with all aspects and my family struggled a lot financially plus the wars and injustice that we have been through. My mother was so kind and patient with everybody all the time and I learned from her how to be patient and honest with everything. This is my mother’s gift to me and I’m carrying it with me everywhere I go because it’s giving me the strength and patience that I need. In 2006 and just before I left Iraq my mother gave me this gift and asked me to carry it with me all the time because it has the name of Allah ‘God’ and this will protect me and give me patience and strength.”

56“This Holy Qur’an is opened on the page that has Alnaas verse, and this verse means a lot for me because it’s the verse of protection.”

/all images © Jim Lommasson/

For more on Jim Lommasson and What We Carried: Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization, visit Lommasson’s blog.

 

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art of resistance, India

Love Commandos, India: Fighting Crimes against Love.

I once introduced the quirky group of photographers hidden under the name Riverboom, writing about their original gaze at Afghanistan. I loved their work then and love it now, and if there’s even been a project that represents them and their mission – it’s the Love Commandos. It is an incredible, heartwarming, positive, quirky and funny story, just like the Riverboom bunch is.

The Love Commandos

Love Commandos is a voluntary organization in India dedicated to helping India’s lovebirds who want to marry for love. They provide assistance in protecting couples, helping them fight harassment and giving them shelter so they can marry freely. Their tagline is – no more honor kilings. Here is their theme song:

To love is never a sin, they say. Now – how can one not like and support that? No to be fooled by their name, Love Commandos is on a serious mission – on their website helpline they have around thousand messages from people trying to unite with their loved ones, to marry freely and live their lives in peace. And that is only one of many helplines provided by Love Commandos.

The Love Commandos

As Riverboom put it in the feature for INSTITUTE:

In a land, where even Cupid would tread carefully, the Love Commandos, a volunteer organization, have taken the onus to protect couples from the animosity of their families. Operating from their HQ in the crowded area of Paharganj in North Delhi, the Love Commandos are a small team but have saved many couples. They fight against killers, resists police and battle against century long traditions that enrage entire villages. Lead by Sanjoy Sachdev and Harsh Malhotra this open group of activists helps these couples by organizing their break outs, filing their cases in court and protecting them from dangers, all in the name of Love.

The Love Commandos

Just last year, only in northern India, more than 900 young people were declared missing or dead. And it is to help such couples, who choose their life partner on their own that Love Commandos was born.

Infact, falling in love in India today can be a dangerous business. Most families do not accept the marriages, which are out of religion, caste or class. Families choose the bride or the groom and you don’t get married to a man or a woman but to their families.

The Love Commandos

But with more opportunities of education and the information age, things are rapidly changing and the young people refuse imposed marriages. Such couples end up living a life on the run, rather than spending their lives with someone they don’t love.

Even though marriages between people belonging to different classes, casts, or religions are permitted according to the Indian law, young couples who take this path often find themselves running away from those people who should love and protect them: their families.

The Love Commandos

Ending up chased by their relatives and often hunted down by assassins recruited by the Khap Panchayats, the Indian village councils that substitute the local government throughout the country, these young lovers have no choice other than to run away or find protection from the Love Commandos.

The Love Commandos

//all images © Riverboom/ INSTITUTE//

For more on this lovely feature – go to INSTITUTE, and for more on Riverboom and their other projects – visit their official website. For more on Love Commandos, their work and ways to support them – see their website.

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