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02 May 2022

The Liberian Abrupt Political Past, and Its Impacts on Society

02 May 2022 - Written by PhMuseum

As a critique against the silence from the national and international scene regarding the violent injustices in Liberia, this slow-documentary series by Elliot Verdier exposes the trauma that its people are going through.

Of the bloody conflict that decimated Liberia, its population does not speak. No proper memorial has been built, no day is dedicated to commemoration. The country, still held by several protagonists of the carnage, refuses to condemn its perpetrators. 

Among them, Prince Johnson, former warlord, and infamous torturer is now a senator, while the recently elected Vice-President is none other than Jewel Howard - Taylor, ex-wife of war criminal Charles Taylor (only convicted for his crimes in Sierra Leone). 

This deafening silence, that resonates internationally, denies any possibility of social recognition or collective memory of the massacres, immuring Liberia in an endless feeling of abandonment and drowsy resignation. 

The trauma carved into the population’s flesh is crystallized in the society’s weak foundations, still imbued with an unsound Americanism, and bleeds onto a new generation with a hazy future. The wind of hope blown by the 2018 peaceful and democratic elections that put former ghetto child turned soccer star Georges Weah to power, is already falling through the cracks of his apathetic governance.

Liberia is suffering a long, anonymous night. The photographic and audio work explores the mechanisms of its resilience and the invisible resorts of psychic trauma in war. Without Manichaeism, it unveils the eye and loosens the tongue of these women, these men, victims or perpetrators, on their damaged fate, made of nightmares in the daylight.

Words and Pictures by Elliott Verdier 

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Elliott Verdier (1992, France) is a documentary photographer. Although he was early influenced by « classical » photojournalism, his work steers away from hot news and favors the slowness of the large format camera. Questioning territories through memory, generational transmission, and resilience he photographs with a certain intimacy and dignity. He also collaborates with the New York Times, Le Monde Magazine, and Vogue Italia. Follow him on Instagram and PhMuseum

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This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PhMuseum curators.

Selected by

PhMuseum

Reading time

3 minutes

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