Publicity: Alexandra Rose Howland
The photographer talks about her body of work examining everyday life and war in Iraq, where she explores complex questions of truth in photography and journalism
In a bleak era of fear and division – in which societal ills are inescapably visible and what constitutes truth itself is up for interpretation – Alexandra Rose Howland’s practice is invested in illustrating the difficult complexities of our existence.
She does this by resisting the historical notion of photography as a mode of direct representation created by a single author. Instead, she embraces image-making as a social practice, co-creating stories with her participants. The result is an ecosystem of visual material that embraces nuance, depth, contradiction and multiple subjectivities, creating a rich and complex approach to storytelling.
Howland didn’t arrive at this mode of making overnight. It was born from a committed, creative practice over several years that began with studying abstract painting and international relations and landed in fine art documentary with a formative phase of photojournalism in between.
In 2015, sick of painting alone in her studio in Los Angeles and seeking a way to bridge the gap between her creative practice and interest in geopolitics, she spontaneously moved to Turkey to pursue photojournalism. Two months later, a coup happened, followed by the refugee crisis, which set Howland on an unexpected trajectory.
Top: Soldiers guard the main entrance of Mosul University, one of the largest educational centres in the Middle East. Above: Selfies from the phone of Fatima Farooq (b. 1994, Karbala). Both image from the series Leave and Let Us Go