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Leave and Let Us Go

Leave and Let Us Go

by Alexandra Rose Howland

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Leave and Let Us Go presents a portrait of Iraq — a country often misunderstood and misrepresented. In this new book, Alexandra Rose Howland combines her own photographs with found images and written testimonies, Her aim is to challenge and expand the ways that geopolitical events are communicated. The publication of Leave and Let Us Go coincided with an exhibition of the project at FOAM, Amsterdam from 17 September – 5 December 2021.

Please be aware that this book contains graphic imagery.

More about this book

Howland first moved to Iraq as a photographer in 2017 to try to understand a country and people she had previously only encountered through the media. She had been 11 when the Twin Towers were attacked and the conversation in the news agenda had shifted to the War on Terror and Weapons of Mass Destruction. When she arrived in Iraq, she found a country far removed from her expectations and was intent on creating work that communicated this. Whilst photographing her first 88km panoramic image of Mosul Road, her project began to evolve from using her own images to represent the country to attempting to add another perspective—that of the Iraqi people.

Leave and Let Us Go, is the culmination of Howland's photographic work and archive created across Iraq from 2017–2021.

Published November 2021
180 x 240 mm, 340 pages
6 gatefolds
ISBN 978-1-910401-58-3

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  • Alexandra Rose Howland (1990, US/UK) has a background as an abstract painter, and this informs her work—resulting in multidimensional projects that use images, found objects, interviews, and video. Through her work, she seeks to generate a more honest understanding of "the other" while also questioning the contemporary conundrum of image saturation. Howland began photographing in 2015 after relocating to Turkey and moved to Iraq in 2017 and has since been documenting the environment surrounding conflict. Her work has been internationally exhibited with both solo and group exhibitions including Road to Mosul, Oxo Tower, London; Textured to Only Us, Old Bank District, Los Angeles; I-ΣMIGRAZIONI, Photo Lux Festival, Italy; and Where I Lay My Head, Hillvale Gallery, Australia. Howland regularly works with National Geographic, The New York Times, Le Monde, and Wall Street Journal among others.

  • 'I became acutely aware that what a foreigner is able to capture through an image does not always embody the lived reality of locals. Several days into an embed with Iraqi Special Forces, a way of bridging that divide became evident when a soldier shared the pictures on his phone with me: his wife, his children, the people he had killed, his university graduation day, his wedding. Similar interactions like this happened so often during my time there, I began asking to download these images in order to create an archive of the personal accounts of people who wanted their stories witnessed, not just represented. In total, I have collected roughly 350,000 images and videos from over fifty different people across the country. I also began to scan the family photo albums of many of the people I met to create a multi-generational view of Iraq, dating as far back as the 1920s. These photos were supplemented with interviews, found objects, newspaper and magazine clippings, along with images recovered from found cell phones of suspected ISIS militants and those who lived under their rule.'

    - Alexandra Rose Howland