Rawan Mazeh | In Their Place

Country of origin: Lebanon
Project location: Lebanon
Program: Arab Documentary Photography Program
Year: 2017

In Lebanon, looking at the wars through a narrow scope, temporary media coverage of conflict often overlooks deep and lasting impacts that go far beyond wartime. Residual manifestations of war are often as powerful and important as those direct outcomes of casualties and destroyed infrastructure. The destruction that affected homes as well as hospitals, schools, roads, airports, power stations, fuel depots, warehouses, factories, and bridges subsequently left no evidence, as the areas went through an extensive reconstruction phase and were fully repaired.

As such, the only remaining proof of physical destruction today is cluster bombs and landmines left by Israelis from 1978, 1982, and 2006. These bombs, left in the southern part of Lebanon, still constitute a danger, given the fact that they still might explode when touched today. Usually referred to as the aftermath, injured survivors, traumatized relatives, friends and family of martyrs, homes, and landmine-filled landscapes remain overlooked.

This series strives to tell the untold stories of those that remained in the shadows in Southern Lebanon, hiding and intimidated, too afraid to stand up on their own, fearing they would join those who lost their lives and suffered incomparable losses. Through this series, I put myself in their place and step into the landmine and remnant zones; I follow the memories sitting in drawers, covered with daily routine objects and belongings; and I face the human remains - injured, mentally ill, and traumatized. These memories are backed up by constant reminders passed along from one generation to another, taking the form of objects which end up being considered as part of their heritage and belonging. And while life goes on, these people, memories, and places stay still - standing where their shoes were left, frozen in the past.