Discordia, by Magnum photographer Moises Saman, represents a personal memory of the nearly four years he spent living and working as a photojournalist in the Middle East during the Arab Spring from 2011 to 2014.
“These photographs were taken while I was working as a photojournalist in multiple countries in the region for publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, and TIME magazine. Over these years, the many revolutions overlapped and in my mind became one blur, one story in itself. In order to tell this story the way I experienced it, I felt the need to transcend a linear journalistic language, and instead create a new narrative that combined the multitude of voices, emotions, and the lasting uncertainty I felt.”
In Discordia, Saman presents the unfolding of long and complex photographic sequences, absent of captions, an unexpected and less straightforward journalistic representation of the Arab Spring. The book includes a series of photo collages, created by the Dutch-Iranian artist Daria Birang from Saman's photographs, grainy cut-outs exploring the repetition of human gestures and theatrics that Saman saw time after time during the events. Discordia utilises various artistic approaches to photographic material; double-page spreads, isolated images, provocative two-image comparisons, juxtapositions and the collages. Presented as such, the book builds a visual representation of Saman's up-close experience with the events taking place around him. The photographs are often ambiguous, depicting fleeting moments on the periphery of the more dramatic events that Saman photographed for editorial publications. Discordia instead presents people gathered in conference, protests on the street, objects, and the continuation of day-to-day life amidst violence and uncertainty. The result is a personal comment on the complex nature of this period, and the ever-blurring line between victim and perpetrator. The book closes with a series of short essays written by the photographer, vignette-like descriptions of transient characters, encounters, and situations he experienced during the years he spent living and working in the Middle East.
‘Discordia shows the hopes, idealism and strength of rebellion against long-established dictatorial regimes, and also—with great clarity—the price paid for it.’ －Julian Stallabras
The work in Discordia was in part made possible with the generous support of The Incite Project (a UK-based private collection of issue-driven photographic prints), the Guggenheim Foundation, the W. Eugene Smith Foundation, and Magnum's Collectors Circle.
― Statement from the distributor