Life and death amid the ruins of conflict


Russian freelance photographer Sergey Ponomarev has spent the last two years covering events in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Ukraine. His award-winning work has been regularly featured in The New York Times and French weekly Paris Match. He began his career with Associated Press in Moscow in 2003, initially focusing on Russian society and culture before covering the 2006 conflict between Israel and the Lebanese-based Hezbollah group, and later, in 2011, the Libyan revolution.

A freelance since 2012, the 34-year-old has continued his reporting of conflict zones, from the civil war in Syria, from Gaza and Israel during the 2014 Israeli offensive in Gaza codenamed ‘Protective Edge’, and the Ukraine, during both the uprising that toppled former president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 and the subsequent pro-Russian separatist conflict in the east of the country.

A collection of his work is currently being showcased in Paris, at the Galerie Iconoclastes (see details bottom of page) in an exhibition on until June 9th. Mediapart presents here below a selection of 15 compelling and often disturbing photos from those on display, and which vividly illustrate both the horrors of war and the staggering capacity of peoples to retrieve a semblance of normality amid surrounding turmoil.

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  1. Kabul, Afghanistan: the park in the Wazir-Akbar-Khan district in the north of the city, at the end of the afternoon, Tuesday May 21st 2013.

  2. Kabul, Afghanistan: children play football close to Amin Square, Thursday April 18th 2013.

  3. Kabul, Afghanistan: Samir, 7, stares out of the blacksmith shop run by his father, Saturday April 20th 2013.

  4. Kabul, Afghanistan: street vendors and passers-by in front of a wall with graffiti championing the cause of education over war, Saturday April 20th 2013.

  5. Rafah, Gaza Strip: during the Israeli offensive codenamed ‘Protective Edge’, Saturday July 19th 2014.

  6. Jabaliya, Gaza Strip: members of the Palestinian Abid Raboh family mourn the death of a child killed after what appeared to be four Israeli artillery shells struck a United Nations-run school at the Jabalia refugee camp, during the Israeli offensive codenamed ‘Protective Edge’ Wednesday July 30th 2014.

  7. Gaza Strip, Gaza: Palestinians clean up a patch of concreted ground close to a mosque destroyed during the Israeli offensive codenamed ‘Protective Edge’, Saturday August 2nd 2014.

  8. Jabaliya, Gaza Strip: Palestinians mourn the deaths of members of a family killed in an Israeli airstrike, during the Israeli offensive codenamed ‘Protective Edge’, Monday August 4th 2014.

  9. Damascus, Syria, Monday August 12th 2013. A scene a the city centre.

  10. Damascus, Syria: pigeons fly over the ruins of the Jupiter Temple in the city, Wednesday August 14th 2013.

  11. Damascus, Syria: Syrian Christians attend mass at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross, Wednesday August 14th 2013.

  12. Homs, Syria: a man refreshes himself, Sunday June 15th 2014.

  13. Slovyansk, Ukraine, 2014: a pro-Russian rebel fighter with a shotgun at a checkpoint in Slavyansk. He said that since the rebels pushed out Ukrainian government forces in the town there is a power vacuum and a sense of stability has been lost. Ukrainian government forces now surround the town. A rebel-imposed curfew makes the streets terrifying at night, with nervous men manning checkpoints and carrying out patrols.

  14. Kiev, Ukraine: Anti-government demonstrators on Independence Square on on Wednesday February 19th 2014, where they set barricades on fire to stop a police assault during violent clashes that left an estimated 98 people dead before former president Viktor Yanukovych was forced from power.

  15. Slavyansk, Ukraine: a funeral service for Sasha Lubenets, 21, who was killed during an attack by Ukranian army forces near Slavyansk on May 10th 2014.


    These and other photos by Sergey Ponomarev are on show in an exhibition dedicated to his work, entitled Effondrement (‘Collapse’) at the Galerie Iconoclastes in Paris from now until June 9th 2015.

    Address: 20, rue Danielle-Casanova in the second arrondissement (75002). Nearest metro stations are Opera and Pyramides. Open from Monday to Sunday, 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Entrance is free of charge.

    Sergey Ponomarev's website can be found here.

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