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  • Goethe-Institut Washington 1990 K Street Northwest Washington, DC, 20006 United States (map)

The Human Cost of the Syrian War

Berlin-based photographers Kai Wiedenhöfer and Daniel Sonnentag portray the human impact of the Syrian conflict. Their works, which approach the subject from different points of view, are being exhibited at the Goethe-Institut and Gallery Al-Quds as a way to highlight this urgent humanitarian crisis.

For FORTY out of ONE MILLION, German photographer Kai Wiedenhöfer took portraits of forty Syrian war-wounded in towns, villages and refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon between spring 2014 and 2015. By showing the genuine aftermath of this war, he seeks to raise support for people who are really in need. The media summarize the number of casualties on a daily basis, but often ignore the wounded. The war will never end for them, as they will have to endure their injuries for the rest of their lives.

Wiedenhöfer’s project aims to show the suffering of the civilian population in a modern war. Looking back retrospectively in the cold light of the day, the horrors of war become evident. The reality is so gruesome that the media tends to not depict it for ethical reasons. But does this policy help prevent war and suffering, or contribute to additional conflict by making it more palatable to an unknowing public?

Kai Wiedenhöfer (b. Germany 1966) received an MA in photography and editorial design from the Folkwang University of the Arts Essen, and studied Arabic in Damascus, Syria. Since 1989 his work has primarily focused on the Middle East. He has received numerous awards, including the Leica Medal of Excellence, the Alexia Grant for World Peace and Cultural Understanding, World Press Photo awards, the Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography and the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award. Wiedenhöfer has published four books with Steidl: Perfect Peace (2002), Wall (2007), The Book of Destruction (2010, exhibited as a solo exhibition in the Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris), and CONFRONTIER (2013, about walls worldwide). Solo exhibitions include WALLONWALL, which covered 364 meters of the Berlin Wall with works from CONFRONTIER, and the 2015 WARonWALL – The Struggle in Syria, which is accompanied by Syrian Collateral (2016). In December 2016, the International Human Rights League in Berlin presented Wiedenhöfer with the Carl-von-Ossietzky Medal for citizens who promote basic human rights.

Wiedenhöfer’s work will be exhibited primarily at the Goethe-Institut, which will also have two pieces from Daniel Sonnentag’s exhibition They Have Names, a photo project giving a face to Syrian refugee children, on display.

Opening at the Goethe-Institut on Thursday, April 20, 6-8 pm with artists Kai Wiedenhöfer and Daniel Sonnentag.