Make a Wish
[ EPF 2016 FINALIST ]
“This is just a dream, but fortunately dreams do come true.” Cyrus P., 15, Tehran, Iran It’s a rainy November morning in Gaza and a truce has just been announced after 8 days of fighting. A young man stands in the rubbles of what is left of his home, destroyed in an air strike just an hour before the war ended. His name is Ahmed, he is 18 years old, the son of a fisherman. He wants to live in peace and go to college but we are in the Gaza strip and dreams have their limits here, you often have the feeling of being caught up in a game where you always turn out the looser.
MAKE A WISH is a photo essay looking at the hopes and dreams of youth, aiming to create a testimony of our time. It’s inspired by the fact that youth should be the age of infinite possibilities. Most of the MAKE A WISH project has been shot in the Middle East and in situations linked to the Arab Spring revolution or in conflict zones where youth too often is derived of it’s right to be young.
The Arab Spring catapulted a taste of freedom in people across a region so long affected by dictators, Western foreign policies gone awry and poor social development. Spring turned to summer, fall and winter, months turned to years and the original revolution into something much different from the ideals of freedom shouted at squares across the region. When I set out to work on this project, I did so with the assumption that youth is an age of infinite possibility when aspiration is not yet conditioned by experience. As the work evolved I began to understand until which extent aspirations are conditioned by the society in which we live and the circumstances under which we grow up.
Make a Wish is shot in medium format negative with a Hasselblad camera. For each portrait I ask the person to write down his or her dream in my notebook. Together, the text and the pictures become a testimony of youth of our time.
Wall in a private building in Khan Yonis, Gaza strip shows signs of shelling after an israeli airstrike during 8-day operation Pillar of defense.
Abdallah Al-Rhaman, 19 works with his brother Ahmed, together they make a living by performing with horses in weddings and ceremonies, just like their father used to do. When asked about his dreams and future aspirations he says: “ To stay with my horse all the time, all my life. My life is horses. ”
Early morning view on an empty space still burning after hit in an israeli air strike during the Pillar of defense.
Dorna is an art student. She does not feel free in Iran and studies German so that she can eventually continue her life in Berlin. When asked about her future dreams and aspirations she says: “ I want to be professional in all ways and all jobs. I want to conclude all I do perfectly. In this way I can make my choices and not leave anything undone. Time is passing and each moment I live is a fight to be in the present. To work in an every day routine, to do my best and to understand the present in order to live fully, peacefully with nature. ”
Two men pass by the remains of what used to be the National Democratic Party’s landmark-torched on January 28th, 2011 during the escalations that came to topple Hosni Mubarak.
A combat soldier alone in the rain during an exercise.
Two Turkish women talk on a lawn while president Erdogan delivers a speech during a mass rally a day after protesters were evicted from Gezi park in Istanbul with the help of riot police and teargas.
Afghan men sit next to the harbour in Mytillini, Lesvos after a swim and wash up in the water. They arrived by boat from Turkey and as many others they wait to get a ticket on the next ferry to Athens.
17-year Omar from Syria arrived at Skala beach in Lesvos with clothes dripping wet. .When asked about his dreams and future aspirations he says: ’ I came here because I have diabetes and need a doctor.’
Passengers, most of whom are refugees, disembark a ferry coming from Lesvos at arrival in Pireus port of Athens at dawn.
An Aghan boy sits by the harbour in Mytillini where he and his friends wait to get a ticket for the next ferry to Athens. When asked about his future dreams and visions he says: ’ I left my home in Afghanistan where the Talibans make life so hard. When I come to Europe my dream is to become a football player and join Real Madrid.’
A poster of Yasser Arafat inside the print section of Industrial Islamic Orphanage School in the Old City Muslim quarter of Jerusalem.
Nachman Gallagher is the second son of an Irish catholic convert and a Jewish ultra-orthodox mother. Nachman is an excellent drummer, he plays everything from rock to jazz and klezmer. Most of the time, however, he plays hassidic music in religious weddings, to make a living. The Gemara (the part of the Talmud that comprises rabbinical analysis and commentary on the Mishna) says that one sometimes has to do work one does not loveif it helps one to earn the daily bread. When asked about his future dreams and aspirations,he says: “ I want to become a somebody.”
Military police stand guard while pro-Mubarak supporters rally outside the courthouse where a second trial of the ousted president is held in Cairo, Egypt.
A muslim woman is supported by her mother and sister as she suffers from tear gas fired by riot police against protesters, next to Istiklal street in Istanbul, Turkey.
Ahmed Zayed, an 18-year old fisherman in the rubbles of what used to be his home in Salateeh area, Gaza strip-hit in an israeli airstrike a few hours before the truce between Israel and Hamas after the 8-day operation Pillar of Defense. When asked about his future dreams and aspirations, he says: “ To live in peace and go to college”.
Men are seen after midday prayers at a mosque in the center of Sana’a.
Usama, 21 has been an active member of El Nasser Salah El Dine brigades during 4 years.Usama has a dream: “ That all my land comes back to the Palestinian people. And to go to Jerusalem. I want it so bad”.
Devoted muslims are seen at a mosque just before prayer time in the Old City of Sana’a.
A mural of Khomeini and brother martyrs from the 8-year long Iran-Iraq war in southern Tehran neighborhood.
Farhad travelled from Farah in Afghanistan to do construction work in Tehran. He is here to make money and will go back home as soon as he can. He says: “ I saw you with my lips of heart and fire coming to my body and if I hear that you are in trouble, something bad will happen to your enemies.”
Loulou d’Aki is a photographer born and raised on the Swedish seaside. Her main interest lies in how human beings are affected by the society in which they live and the influence of visible or invisible borders. Alongside commissioned work and freelance editorials Lou focuses on various long term projects such as: MAKE A WISH a photo essay looking at the hopes and dreams of youngsters across the globe. CITY HEADACHE the post-war generation’s way of handling the Iranian dress code in its own way within a society where the urban recollection of war and martyrdom is an unevitable and constant factor. Lou’s work has been exhibited at Prix Bayeux Calvados des correspondents de guerre, Noorderlicht Photofestival, Singapore Photofestival, The Other hundred, Foto Leggendo, Mois de la photo, Portraet nu!… Some of her clients include Le Monde, die Zeit, New York Times, TIMES, NY Magazine, Dagens Nyheter, Internazionale, National Geographic Proof, Unicef, New Yorker etc.