Finalist 2018: Christian Werner
In his “Road to Ruin” series, German photographer Christian Werner explores new ways of reporting on conflict situations. With quiet images that border on poetic, he speaks about the lives of the people in Bashar al-Assad’s Syria following the fall of East Aleppo.
War has been raging in Syria since 2011. The consequences of the conflict have now spread way beyond the country’s borders. Aid organisations speak of the greatest humanitarian crisis of the last decades, with hundreds of thousands of dead, and millions of refugees. Starting as a protest against the regime, events soon escalated into all out civil war, which, at least since the entry of Russia into the conflict, has evolved into a proxy war between regional and world powers. Christian Werner, however, does not set his focus on political and military events.
“My images speak about everyday matters, about life in a hostile environment. I want to show the situation of the Syrian people who, despite the long conflict, the war lords, the militia and the oppressive regime, continue to try to lead a worthy and peaceful life.”
Accompanied by the German journalist Fritz Schapp, the photographer travelled throughout Syria four times over the past two years. They met with people in Homs, Aleppo, Latakia, Damascus and Raqqa, talking with them about their lives in a country dominated by war. Werner documented the atmosphere in what are now partly ghost towns, but where, despite everything, life still goes on. With their warm hues, the quiet images border on poetic. His compositions are made up of daily life scenarios and unsettling situations, drawing the viewer closer to gaining a sense for the incomprehensible horrors of war. It is a style of war reporting that does not provoke pity and indignation, but rather empathy and understanding for a people who have been branded by war.
Born in Hanover in 1987, the photographer studied Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at college in Hanover from 2009 to 2014. He works today as a free-lance photo and multimedia journalist. His work focusses on socio-critical and geo-political themes, and he is the recipient of a number of awards. His pictures and stories have appeared in the magazines Spiegel, Zeit, Time and LFI, among others. Werner lives in Boitzum, Lower Saxony, Germany.
Portrait: © Lisa Rocks