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BOOKS

11.12.2020

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This photo book is a compilation of touching stories. Terrifying biographies depict the fates of eleven individuals: they capture everyday life during wartime, accounts of flight and displacement, yet also offer messages of hope.

The War on Children report, published by Save the Children at the same time as the book I am Alive, cites the horrifying figure of 426 million children currently growing up in conflict zones – the largest number ever, since records have been kept. The protagonists in the book have experienced the same shocking misery as millions of other children do today. The biographies range from Erich Karl, now 107 years old, to baby girl Rajiya, newly born in a Save the Children refugee camp for survivors of the Rohingya conflict.

This unusual book project was conceived and initiated by Martina Dase, Communications Director for the German branch of Save the Children. Dase explains: “In this time of image overload, our book offers the reader a new way to deal with an exceptionally war-torn century – not didactically, but cinematographically, with multiple perspectives, and associatively. We don’t portray the survivors as victims, but rather as they themselves see themselves - with an admirable amount of strength, and the right to beauty.”

The Swiss photographer Dominic Nahr travelled extensively, over the past three years, to bring together the portraits of these eyewitnesses. By weaving together the portraits and reportages, current and historic materials, analogue and digital images in both colour and black and white, and by merging places and times, Nahr clearly underlines the universal character of war experiences. “When we speak about children in war zones, we think of conflict hotspots today, such as Syria or Yemen,” Nahr muses. “But we wanted to go deeper, by travelling back in time to find people who have survived the same kind of horrors experienced by war children today. How did these experiences impact them? That’s what we wanted to find out.”

I Am Alive also brings together essays and personal contributions by numerous prominent guest authors, including the German Development Minister Dr. Gerd Müller, and personalities such as violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and British war reporter Jon Swain. Their accounts merge with the pictures to create a poignant and comprehensive composition.

In addition to its far-reaching conceptual approach, the book’s other particularity is its unusual design. Each of the people portrayed is defined by a colour; so that the viewer browses through a colourful, multi-faceted “chronicle of humanity”, in which there are always new references to be uncovered. The photo book successfully connects the fates of survivors marked by war, over more than a century. Despite the differences between individual stories, each protagonist has found a way to deal with grief, trauma and loss of home. At the same time, the book is an open and urgent call for humanitarian efforts to continue their work to change the living conditions of endangered children around the world. (Ulrich Rüter)

I Am Alive. How Children Survived a Century of Wars. 100 Years Save the Children
Overall concept: Martina Dase; Photography: Dominic Nahr
Essays: Bertram Job
According to interviews and reportages by Anna Mayumi Kerber
Guest authors: Mayte Carrasco, Amir Hassan Cheheltan, Ban Ki-moon, Marcel Mettelsiefen, Gerd Müller, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Wole Soyinka, Jon Swain, Ulrike C. Tscharre, Margrethe Vestager, Anne Watts, Ingo Zamperoni

324 pages, 102 colour and black and white pictures, 22 × 26.5 cm. German and English edition


Kerber
Amal (name changed) from Syria, 11 years old. After fleeing from Homs, the family now lives in Lebanon. © Dominic Nahr
José David Ríos, 17 years old, a survivor of the armed conflict in Colombia (1964 – 2016). © Dominic Nahr
View over Guapi, Colombia. © Dominic Nahr
Rajiya (name changed), 15 days old, born in the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. © Dominic Nahr
The Kutupalong refugee camp next to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. © Dominic Nahr
Erich Karl, 105 years old, a survivor of World War I (1914 – 1918). © Dominic Nahr
Maria Consuelo Beltran, 91 years old, a survivor of the Spanish Civil War  (1936 – 1939). © Dominic Nahr
Birds on Wolmido, Incheon, South Korea. © Dominic Nahr
Mawla Jan Nazari, 54 years old, a survivor of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan (1979 – 1989). © Dominic Nahr
The Naghlu Dam in Surobi District, Afghanistan. This is where Mawla Jan Nazari’s village used to stand. © Dominic Nahr

Save the Children

Save the Children was founded in 1919 by British social reformist Eglantyne Jebb, to rescue children from starvation in Germany and Austria, following World War I. Today, it is the largest independent children’s rights organisation in the world, present in 110 countries. Save the Children works in aid of children in areas of war, conflict and catastrophe; and for a world that respects the rights of children.  

Donations account: Bank für Sozialwirtschaft

IBAN: DE92100205000003292912
BIC: BFSWDE33BER

Reference: Ich lebe
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