Legacy of War and Massive Attack

Stories only have power when people listen. As a photographer taking a photograph is only part of my work, I have to make sure people see the images. And that has never felt more important to me than when covering the refugee crisis.

I remember standing on a beach in Lesvos in October 2015, watching as boat after boat landed on the shores. In the midst of such suffering, taking photographs felt so pointless. People were dying, families hysterical, children traumatised – there were great photographers documenting what was happening, newspapers carried images on their front pages – yet there seemed to be no reaction from the world.

One of the core aims of Legacy of War is to work on collaborations with poets, writers and musicians. Trying to find ways to reach new audiences and tell stories in innovative ways. One of the bands I’d been talking too was Massive Attack and now seemed like the perfect time for our collaboration. We had to get these stories to as wide an audience as possible.

Sat in my hotel in Lesvos I called them on Skype, sharing images, trying as best I could to describe what I had been witnessing on the beaches. As a band they have a long history of supporting refugees, and they were deeply affected by what I was reporting to them.

With an upcoming tour, their decision was immediate. They’d find a way to incorporate the photographs into the visuals for their live shows.

“I was deeply moved by the pictures he was sending me,” recalled Robert Del Naja (Massive Attack), “we have in the past used a journalistic approach to our lightshow, by transmitting and regurgitating information that is around us, this felt more important than that, this felt like an opportunity to tell a story… it needed to be told directly and naturally.

What’s really shocking is that you could be looking at photographs from any time in the last one hundred years of a crisis involving refugee migration and war. And that’s what’s terrifying, is you think nothings changed and that is what we have to engage with because this is not the past. This is now.”

 

On a wet Bristol day in September 2016, that collaboration reached its biggest audience…….