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What Remains

In Syria, a photographer captures his subjects' pleas for normal life against the backdrop of the war-weary landscape.

War photographers don’t usually carry colored pencils in their bags. But Cihad Caner didn’t want to photograph war. Using a polaroid camera and colored pencils, Caner creates diptychs of Syria that pair bleak, black and white images with written appeals for normality penned in bright hues. Anwar (slide 4) wants safety for his unborn child, and Adbullah (slide 7) wants to drink coffee in Damascus.

“Almost everything has scars from the war,” says Caner, who traveled from his home in Turkey to Aleppo and Azaz to make these images. The photos don’t center on violence or tragedy, but instead, in the periods of calm before the shelling and firefighting begins again, the people who remain. After creating the pictures, Caner asked his subjects to share their thoughts and draw on the prints.

The results are simple and startling: a red, hand-drawn sun rising over a wide shot of Damascus feels like a wistful tribute to the distance between present conflict and future peace; pink marks vibrate above a destroyed building as if the ground was still shaking.

—Glenna Gordon


Cihad Caner was born in 1990. He is currently based in Istanbul, studying journalism at Marmara University. In his photography he tries to stay close to his own experiences and the relationship between humans and their environment. His photographic work for Turkish NGOs has taken him to several different countries, and alongside his photography he has worked on several video-art projects.

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One comment for What Remains

  1. Comment by AC on August 10, 2013 at 7:52 am

    The images are powerful and the words moving, however, many of the subjects are not innocents. They are Islamic extremists who will engender a society far worse than Assad’s. These people are so dangerous, they sent over half the Syrian populace running into Baathist arms.

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