The Book of Destruction
The Berlin based photographer Kai Wiedenhöfer spend several times in Gaza taking photos that do more than underlining a story. His pictures are capable of telling a story documenting in almost unbearable detail the damage left after Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2009. He has worked in this area for more than 20 years and has specialized on military destructions of houses and the lives that they host.
Wiedenhöfer’s book and exhibition The Book of Destruction supported by the Fondation Carmignac Gestion depicts the suffering of the civilian population in a terrifying aesthetic but sustainable way that leaves a lasting impression. Quiet, clean and elegant panoramic images of destroyed buildings show the extent of the bombings. Also there are portraits of maimed people in the book that illustrate the remaining wounds of the bombings and serve as a reminder that war in the 21st century is as real and terrible as the wars that entered into history.
His human subjects look into the camera, seated in their own homes: women and children; the family of fighters and civilians – all displaying bewildering variations of traumatic amputation and burns.
The photographs of the ruined buildings supply their own taxonomy of the consequences of different explosive forces: houses brought down by mines rendered into bristling igloos of concrete; buildings pierced and burned by shells; walls perforated by gunfire. The result is a body of work that is anti-sensational but shocking in the directness with which it engages with violence.