‘THE SAD SONG OF THE END OF A WORLD, A TRIBUTE TO HUMAN ANGUISH’ –
TOWELL’S AWARD-WINNING PHOTOBOOK DOCUMENTING ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

TOWELL, Larry (photographer) and Robert DELPIRE. No Man’s Land. London: ‘Chris Boot in Association with the Archive of Modern Conflict’, 2005.

Oblong folio (260 x 380mm), pp. [9 (half-title, images 001-004, introduction by Robert Delpire, title, ‘Context’)], [1 (blank)], [111 (images 005-126)], [2 (‘Captions’)], [1 (blank)], [1 (‘Afterword’)], [2 (images 127-130)], [1 (colophon)]. 130 duotone photographic illustrations after Towell, some full- or double-page. Original black cloth backed illustrated boards, spine lettered in white and grey, upper board illustrated with photograph after Towell. (Boards minimally rubbed at edges.) A very good, internally fine copy.

First English-language edition. ‘In image after image you see children whose hands are too strong for their years from throwing stones instead of balls, faces in which fear and anxiety have become madness, images in which confused volumes of rubble and debris make it difficult for the eye to read narrow streets and ruined houses. There are no trees left. A few animals remain, incongruous against the apocalyptic landscape, like the white rabbit that clings to its dignity as an old woman holds it by the ears, the bird of prey, remembering hunts of times gone by; cows grazing on a rubbish dump; a donkey by the roadside, turning its back on another which has been disembowelled. And the black cobblestone turned into a jewel by a flash of light. Larry shows us all these things, in Gaza and elsewhere. The task of remembrance. This is a song, says Mahmoud. The sad song of the end of a world, a tribute to human anguish’ (Robert Delpire’s introduction, p. [4]).

In 2003 the Canadian photographer Larry Towell received the inaugural Henri Cartier-Bresson Award for his project ‘The Wall of No Man’s Land: Palestine’. The award was granted by the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, which also arranged an international touring exhibition of the photographs in 2005, and No Man’s Land was published in both French and English editions to accompany the exhibition (the French edition of the book went on to win the prestigious Prix Nadar in 2005). The bulk of the photographs in the book date from the period 2000 to 2004, but some earlier images from 1993 to 1996 are also included. 

£55

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