The Black Light Project by Wolf Böwig and partners

Andreas Platthaus's article from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

ScreenHunter_06 Apr. 15 16.52First, one has to ask: What is Black.Light? Simply posing the question speaks volumes about the problems of the project. Normally, one would think a cross-border and cross-discipline concept for presenting human tragedy through a combination of artistic and documentary styles would stir interest and attract support. But during the time in which the tragedy played out – 1989 to 2007 – it was given short shrift outside of Africa. Fighting in the successor states of Yugoslavia, the Middle East conflict and two Iraq wars were more than just competition for publishing space: They made the West blind to the horrors in regions that are merely on the periphery of its spheres of interest. So much is true for areas like West Africa. From 1989 to 2007, Charles Taylor defined life in that part of the world. The Liberian warlord carried the power struggle for his homeland to neighboring states before actually becoming president of Liberia following the 1997 civil war. Once in office, he fomented a second civil war and further international conflicts. International pressure forced his resignation in 2003, he was extradited from his exile in Nigeria in 2006, and in 2007 he found himself charged with war crimes in Sierra Leone by a U.N. Special Court in The Hague. The trial against the man who once set West Africa aflame in still underway. Black.Light tells the story of the effects of Taylor's actions.

With interest in these events having been so little, nearly everything Black.Light portrays is new to us. It reveals a part of the world irradiated by a black light, one only illuminating individual details in a bizarre way. And there was always death in the shadows. During these times, German photographer Wolf Böwig and Portuguese reporter Pedro Rosa Mendes travelled repeatedly to the four West African states of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and Ivory Coast. They returned with award-winning reports which were published around the world. Böwig and Mendes were even nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. As the photographer put it, “Pedro writes what I see, and I seem to photograph what interests him.” But that wasn't enough for them. Why not try to explain things so many people don't want to know in a manner that attracts more interest and reaches the people of Africa?

More here. [Photo shows Wolf Böwig explaining one of his photos to a young friend at an exhibition in Stuttgart in 2008.]