"The War as I See It": Photo Contest & Exhibition

Poster of The War As I See It photo gallery
Black & White image of a book with torn pages

Grand Prize

"Dominique" Sibylle George, 22, architecture student at American University of Beirut, born in Neuilly-Sur-Seine, France: My grandmother’s house contains objects that have witnessed the atrocities that have happened since 1975. Among them, books. The ones on the bookshelf escaped the bombings and survived, but are marked by bullet holes. Dominique was only shot once, but the bullet went through the entire book. It is always lying on the bookshelf in the living room, but no one has opened it since that day, out of fear it could wake up the demons of the war.

Black and white image of an elderly man and a child separated by a wall

Second Prize

"Features of the Truce" Christina Boutros, 22, journalism student at the Lebanese University, born in Jbeil:

An elderly man and a child are separated by a wall and united by a reality, the agony of the remnants of the war. Each of them belongs to a different generation. The first lived through the Lebanese civil war, participated in it, was wounded, or lost his loved ones. And the second, of the post-war generation, heard about the war, perceived the concept of home through it, and drew a picture of the “other” according to its facts. A picture brings two generations together. Their expressions show that the civil war is not yet over. The evidence is the fact we are still marking its beginning but we never celebrate its end, and our reality is but a truce until further notice.

Image of Lebanese youth screaming together in rejection

Second Prize,

"Last Round", Sami Ouchane, 22, historian and graduate of Paris-Sorbonne University, born in France:

These young people are 15 to 18 years old. Their generation did not experience the war. Some study in Lycée Abdel Kader (in former West Beirut), the others in the Grand-Lycée (in former East Beirut). For this picture, they met on the Green Line to scream together their rejection of a legacy of blindness, silence, and omission. They erase the murderous borderlines of yesterday to build the necessary bridges for tomorrow.

Old photo of people sunbathing on a Lebanese beach

Special Prize: The Consequences of the War on the City,

Tamara Saade, 19, media and communications student at the American University of Beirut, born in Beirut: 

Born after the war, I have learned to understand the stories behind the buildings nibbled by bullets from my social circle and people who have lived through this dreadful time. Growing up in a country that tries to move on from its past, I witnessed the new Lebanon, with its nightlife and beaches. The war as I see it is merely one scar among many that only time will heal.

Child looking through an iron window

Special Prize: Youngest Participant, 

Hanin Aboulhosn, 15, amateur photographer, born in Baabda:

This picture can be described by one word, hope, which means: hold on, pain ends... Although there’s a gun to this boy’s head, he is deprived of his rights and the Lebanese civil war is still affecting him and his life, he still has hope, waiting for the day he will be free. The difference in colors also shows that no matter how dark it seems peace is never too far away.

Image of an old destructed hotel in Lebanon with bullet scars

"COME TO HOTEL BEKISH!", Antoine Khoury, 23, DEA, Saint Joseph University, born in Baskinta: In the 1970s, a luxury hotel was built at Kanat Bakish-Baskinta, Maten, attracting tourists from all over the world . . . Then fear, bombings, and bullets became its most common visitors. This historic moral and human "monument" illustrates the war, its marks and effects. "COME TO HOTEL BEKISH!" to relive the past and learn from the wrongs committed against people and Lebanon, in order to build peace together.

Image of an abandoned mansion nestled in a secret garden on Rue d’Armenie

Caterina Belardi, 24, history and international relations student at Saint Joseph University, born in Rome, Italy:

I climb into abandoned houses to pick up stories where others left off, to reconstruct and reconfigure a view of what Beirut was, which I never had the chance to see. This picture is from the third floor of an apparently abandoned mansion nestled in a secret garden on Rue d’Armenie: a salon with a double, magically preserved, glass and wooded mandaloun, hinting at the wealth and elegance of times gone by too fast.

Image of a wrecked building, turned into art

Haneen Tay, 21, amateur photographer and social media marketer, born in Kfarhim:

They say there are no beautiful surfaces without a terrible depth, and I see beauty in the ruins of a war that had terrible depths. This wrecked building was turned into art. Little red creatures are drawn in the cracks, which look much like us. We lived after the war, but were never whole again; pieces of us are missing. In the photograph I see the pain of losing life and the pleasure of being alive.

Image of a Lebanese teenager looking into the horizon through a window of a war-wrecked building

Hassan Alawad, 15, student at the Lycée Franco-Libanais Habbouche-Nabatieh, born in Nabatieh:

Despite the bombing, despite the destruction of houses, despite the oppression and aggression, you will not erase our dream. When we look at the horizon, the voice of peace calls us, the sparrows sing, hovering in the blue and heralding a glimmer of hope that would free us.

Bullets forming the word Lebanon in Arabic

Hassan al-Jardali, 17, student at Rafic Hariri High School, born in Saida:

How do I see the war? The war in Lebanon lasted too long. Even today, we still suffer from some of its fire. But we are simply trying to forget what happened and ignore the war, the weapons, and the problems, because we believe this will make Lebanon nicer, sweeter, better. The idea was not planned out. I just realized it while taking pictures: while out of focus, the word Lebanon seems to carry a kind of joy and happiness and reflects the Lebanon that we want, but once you adjust the lens, you see Lebanon the war.

Image of a house destroyed by the war, showing the famous Lebanese triple arcade

Isabelle Wakim, 21, history, international relations and interior design student at Saint Joseph University, born in Beirut:

This picture is as sad as the civil war. But the outlines of renovation lead us to hope for reconstruction of the building and this country. In this house, destroyed by the war, the triple arcade, typical of Lebanese architecture, still stands. When it falls down, it is rebuilt. This house lived through the war. It has a story to tell, in the name of its inhabitants and of all Lebanese, to never live the same pain again.

Image of a cannon on a sunset in Lebanon

"How long will we offer sacrifices to gods? Whenever we thought they had enough, they asked for more."

Jana Salam, 22, television and radio student at the Lebanese International University, born in Aitanit:

This photo visualizes the decades-long war among the gods of the Lebanese, for which there is no known end nor any sign of hope on the horizon. The cannon represents a tool of murder and a symbol of brutality and barbarism; the sky of cumulonimbus clouds symbolizes anger. From this picture, I want voices to increase against the war and its tools, forms, and psychological effects, including on our memory.

Image of a woman's face reflection on a glass showing an old destructed building from the Lebanese civil war

"Beauty Against War", Lina Hassoun, 24, interior architecture and design graduate of the Institute of Fine Arts, born in Moscow, Russia:

Wars left ugly scratches on our country, but each time we tend to cover them up with a beauty makeover. As we try to retouch our reality, we tell the world that we stood up and are proud! Beauty is a reaction against political violence or confessions of helplessness. It becomes a manifestation of peace. Even though we still live in terror and are suppressed, deep in our souls we have always remained optimistic and strong.

Image of a dining room mirror with a bullet hole in it, and a faded reflection of the young woman photographer

Lori Kharpoutlian, 22, architecture student at the American University of Beirut, born in Los Angeles, California:

In my grandmother’s dining room mirror is a bullet hole, one I see every Sunday during family lunch. It didn’t kill any of my family members (a lucky miss many didn’t have), but it serves as a daily reminder. It is a black hole of memories of the war that sits there, forgotten, on the other side of the mirror. They become mere shadows in our collective memories, yet perpetually lurk in our surroundings.

Image of a Lebanese woman wearing sunglasses and looking upwards, with a reflection of an old building destructed in the war

"Self-portrait: Me looking at the Holiday Inn",  Maria Mouallem, 23, architecture student at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts, born in Baalbek:

I see the war in every person, in buildings, thoughts, and beliefs . . . We are the reflection of this war, and it of us. I am the child of those who breathed the war and today don’t want to talk about it. Well . . . I am wearing it, it’s written on me . . . Our actions, choices, and ideas are consequences of it. Only if we deal with it, accept that we’re living it, can we overcome it.

Image of a bench at the American University of Beirut with two dedications to two former young AUB students who were killed during the war

Petra Raad, 18, student at the American University of Beirut, born in Ghobeiry:

This photo was taken at the American University of Beirut, under cypress trees planted in the 1880s. The bench has two dedications on it from 2004. Zena and Jihad were AUB students killed, aged 18 and 22, respectively, during the war when a shell hit the campus, exploding nearby. As I see it, the war has mainly targeted young adults, who were eager to accomplish their dreams but could not.

Image of a child scribbling on a wall of house that witness Lebanese civil war with many bullet holes

"I will keep checking on you, until your wounds are healed", Rayane Cheikh, 25, registered nurse at the American University of Beirut Medical Center, born in Beirut:

This picture was taken in a house located at Shayyah, where the Green Line used to be. This house witnessed the Lebanese civil war, as is seen from all the bullet holes, yet it remained solid, destroyed yet still beating, hiding lots of stories with scars, tears, and pain. Despite the wounds, the little boy is still checking on his house’s heartbeats, representing the hope that aims to heal our beloved country.

Image of ornamentations decorating a gate remain from an old mansion in Bashura,

"Beirut's Nobility Is Buried in Its Slums", Ryan Dbeissy, 25, architecture student at the Lebanese University, born in Mresty:

Bashura was one of the first sites of Beirut’s expansion in the 20th century. During the war, traditional houses were destroyed to accommodate refugees. Tangible and intangible forms of heritage characterizing the district started disappearing at a fast pace, buried in slums. Ornamentations decorating this gate are what remain from an old mansion in Bashura, telling a story of the long history of the city, which the recent war almost eliminates from our memory.

Image of a grandmother with the wrinkles left on her face that are the result of the death of her husband during the war

Sarah-Lee Accaoui, 21, architecture student at the Lebanese American University, born in Paris, France:

I have not experienced the civil war, however, I witness the ravages it left behind every day. My grandfather was left for dead in his bedroom when a missile hit our family home. The wrinkles left on my grandmother’s face are the result of the death of her husband during the war. Creases, representing the scars of wounds that will never heal, define my grandmother’s beautiful face.

Image of a Lebanese victim of the 1975 civil war who lost his home, his leg, and his family; sitting on a swing and smoking his cigarette

"Still Hopeful", Sirine Labban, 19, graphic design student at the American University of Beirut, born in Beirut:

This photograph represents a victim of the 1975 civil war who lost his home, his leg, and his family, HOWEVER, he is still hopeful. Each wrinkle on his timeworn face engraves memories of lost loves tinged with sadness, and his eyes have grown dull and cloudy, as he has seen too much suffering. HOWEVER, he is still hopeful that Lebanon will know peace. As long as we’re alive, hope will never perish from our hearts.

Image of an old woman who lost her husband during the war offers a symbolic memento to a young girl, who gives her a red rose in return.

Sophie Nader, 18, student at Notre Dame de Lourde (Jbeil), born in Jrabta:

An old woman who lost her husband during the war offers a symbolic memento to a young girl, who gives her a red rose in return. Red is the color of anger, love, and the Lebanese flag. The youthful hand receives the history symbolized by the memento, learns about peace, and gives love in return to build a peaceful future.

Image of the  only Israeli tank you can still find in Lebanon since “Operation Grapes of Wrath" in 1996

Stéphanie Antoun, 25, pediatric resident at Hôtel-Dieu de France, born in Fiyadieh:

This is the only Israeli tank you can still find in Lebanon since “Operation Grapes of Wrath" in 1996. In Qana, people are still afraid of the potential oppressor that contributed to the implosion of both Lebanon and its collective memory. What remains is a tank, out of service and rusty, reminding them that what they went through was not a bad dream but a grim reality.

Image of Byblos train station, abandoned, like all trains after the civil war.

Tina Panossian, 24, molecular biology/microbiology student at the Lebanese American University, born in Jbeil:

This photo was taken at the Byblos train station, abandoned, like all trains after the civil war. The closed door in the photo expresses the closed glory of the days before the war; the trains had socioeconomic importance in the country. The clock at the top gives a feeling that years are passing and everything we see around us is the effects of the war.

Symbolic image of a citizen setting the most flammable parts of yourself on fire

Usra Al Madhoun, 22, fine arts and conceptual photographer, born in Beirut:

The war as I see it is Self-Harm. It is not a torn, old building or a face whose wrinkles tell the stories of years of struggle. It is a state of mind. It is explicitly setting the most flammable parts of yourself on fire. It is dark and cold, yet in war we use our own power not to light up our path or warm our hearts but to destroy our own being.

Image of empty bomb shell displayed in salon as a vase for artificial flowers.

"Flower in a Bomb Shell", Wael Kaade, 25, chemical engineering and food engineering student at Rovira and Virgili University in Spain, born in Baskinta:

My aunt has an empty bomb shell displayed in her salon, used as a vase for artificial flowers. The combination of the two objects, one destructive and the other peaceful and beautiful, is a reflection of how we humans deal with war. We acknowledge the pain it brings and try to move on and bring a brighter tomorrow for our children. My picture is a wish for a more loving and compassionate humanity.

Image of a hotel wall with three words saying "We are returning, homeland."

Yara Bsaibes, 24, photography student at Notre Dame University, born in Mazraat Yashouh:

The Al Amiriah Hotel, in the photograph, was destroyed in the war, but it is a place I long to know more about. The photograph shows a wall with three words saying "راجعين يا وطن" , which mean, "We are returning, homeland." For me, this photograph shows the resistance of the Lebanese people and their promise to their homeland that they will always return to save it and die for it all over again.

In October 2015, ICTJ asked Lebanese young people to use their cameras to explore their understanding of the Lebanese civil war as it shapes their country’s past and present. "The War as I See It" youth photo contest was organized to raise awareness about the importance of truth seeking and truth telling about people’s experiences of the war and post-war violence. The five winning photographs, selected by a jury of photographers, diplomats, and members of civil society, will travel the country with 21 other entries as part of a photo exhibit, sparking discussion among young people and the public.

In this photo gallery you'll find the 26 entries, each accompanied by a short description from the photographer.

The contest was organized in collaboration with the Embassy of Switzerland in Lebanon, the Embassy of France in Lebanon, the French Institute in Lebanon, the French Institute for the Near-East, and the Political Science Institute at Saint-Joseph University.