Ricard Garcia Vilanova. Sparks in the Dark (Syria, 2011-2015)

Venue: La Virreina Centre de la Imatge
La Rambla, 99
08002 Barcelona
Price: Free event

Ricard Garcia Vilanova (Barcelona, 1971) is the only photojournalist who has been in Syria since the beginning of the war. In November 2011, during the period known as the “Arab Spring”, he infiltrated into Jabal al-Zawiya in the province of Idlib. There he witnessed the first protests against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Terrified of the Mukhabarat (the secret police), civilians asked journalists to only photograph the children for fear of being identified in newspaper pictures. He also witnessed how this repressive regime used sniper fire and, later on, tanks to break up demonstrations. The civilian population was facing a modern military that attacked with artillery from helicopter gunships and fighter jets, with Scud missiles, even chemical weapons.

The uprising descended into a war fought by several factions, but the victim was one and the same: the civilian population, whose only choice was to fight or survive. Finally, the expansion of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has transformed the conflict yet again.

Ricard Garcia Vilanova works with a still camera and a video camera at the same time. He uses a wide-angle lens on both, because, as Robert Capa used to say, “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”. The distance between the journalist’s eye and the gaze of his subject is almost non-existent. The photographer makes no pretence of journalistic objectivity. The decision to be objective or not is left up to the spectator – a spectator who is not all that different from the people Garcia Vilanova portrays, caught in a war that hits those who are most vulnerable the hardest.

Photo: Aleppo, August 2012

Ricard Garcia Vilanova. Llampades en la foscor (Síria, 2011-2015)