Kiwi captures daily life on the front line
An Auckland photographer has braved the frontlines in Iraq to document daily life in a war zone.
Joe Dowling, 29, spent a year and a half living and travelling through the Middle East with his camera.
He’s now showcasing his work in A Window That Isn’t There, an exhibition on display in Freemans Bay, central Auckland.
Travelling with a Kiwi friend, his adventure began with a one way flight to Kabul in Afghanistan with the aim of working towards Turkey.
Dowling said a curiosity for conflict zones wasn’t taken lightly.
‘‘It was definitely scary, we were the only westerners on the flight from Delhi to Kabul and everyone was shouting during takeoff and landing.’’
Shot primarily on black-andwhite 35mm film, Dowling said he wanted to document the ‘‘not so sensational’’ side of the Middle East.
‘‘A lot of the imagery that comes out of these war torn countries is a lot of destruction and depravity.
‘‘This isn’t a light hearted exhibition by any means but it’s kind of a little bit peeled back from the full noise war imagery that we see coming out of these places.’’
The pair made their way to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan where they worked in a high school teaching English.
Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region in the north of Iraq which has seen little conflict since 2003. But he wasn’t there for the comfort and took his camera along with the Peshmerga, the army of Iraqi Kurdistan, as they defended their borders from Isis.
‘‘A lot of the fighting would take place at night and we would turn up in the middle of the day and everybody would be lying around drinking tea and smoking cigarettes,’’ Dowling said.
The closest the pair came to serious harm was when mortar bombs landed a few hundred metres away. The soldiers for the most part were unperturbed, which in turn made the situation a little easier. ’’Your senses are certainly heightened and it’s absolutely scary but you are also kind of comforted by the calmness of the people around you.
‘‘So when everyone else around is relaxed and chilled it’s kind of contagious, we didn’t see any point to being scared if they weren’t scared.’’ A Window that Isn’t There runs until February 10 in the Allpress Studio at 8 Drake Street in Freemans Bay.