Geert van Kesteren, WHY MISTER, WHY


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    TITLE                         WHY MISTER, WHY; Iraq  2003-2004

    PHOTOGRAPHY        Geert van Kesteren

    CITY                              Amsterdam

    PUBLISHER               Artimo – Gijs Stork

    YEAR                            2004

    PAGES                         544p, with 252 colour photos

    EDITION                     first edition, English/Arabian, printrun 3.000, paperback

    SIZE                              21,8 x 17 cm

    ISBN                              90-8546-009-3

    CONDITION               As new

    Just a week after the war ended in April, 2003, Dutch photojournalist Geert van Kesteren travelled to Baghdad. Assigned by UNICEF, Newsweek and Stern, he would report from Iraq for almost seven months, working as an embedded journalist for seven weeks, a position about which he initially had had strong doubts. But there was no choice. Having visited Iraq and the Arab world extensively in the years before, he had his own contacts and insights into this complex society that was once again being shaken by violence. Van Kesteren experienced the absurdity of the war and the underlying clash of cultures, and converted this into images and text. This resulted in an impressive book, bearing witness of what went wrong in Iraq during the American occupation.

    “Why Mister, Why?” Iraqis cried out these words in outrage at the acts of US troops, which they could not understand. American soldiers in turn used them as a taunt to ridicule the despair of the people they captured. Van Kesteren saw it written as such on the door of a toilet at an American base. Why Mister, Why? illustrates the widening gap between the Iraqis and their occupiers. They are the question of those who did not know what to expect, and those who saw the Americans as their liberators who would bring democracy. “There were countless people in Iraq who told me the same thing: ‘If this is democracy, then they can keep it’”, Van Kesteren writes in his introduction to the book.

    Focusing on the fundamental misunderstanding that is the result of disinterest in other cultural models, the tragic clash between East and West, modern Western society and the Islamic world so manifest in the Iraq war is quite comparable to the tensions lived inside many Western countries. The outcry “Why Mister, Why?” therefore has a scope far beyond the war in Iraq.

    Why Mister, Why? is a presentation of the groundbreaking document on the aftermath of the Iraq war by Dutch photojournalist Geert van Kesteren. Van Kesteren was awarded the third prize in Spot News stories at World Press Photo 2005 for this series. The book, published by Artimo Publishers, Amsterdam received a number of prizes, among which the prestigious book prize at PhotoEspaña 2008.



    Het Nederlandse Fotoboek, Frits Gierstberg, Rik Suermondt, Nai Uitgevers, page 136.


    Met meer dan 250 beelden is Why Mister, Why? een intrigerend verslag van fotojournalist Geert van Kesteren. In 2003 en 2004 maakte Van Kesteren deze beelden in een worstelend Irak en voegde ze samen met notities met persoonlijke ervaringen . Doordat de verteller en fotograaf van het verhaal een en dezelfde is, straalt het werk eerlijkheid. De situatie in Irak representeert een culturele botsing van formaat en Van Kesteren was getuige van wat er mis ging. Op een heldere fotojournalistieke wijze beschrijft Van Kesteren waarom het lang zal duren eer de Iraakse bevolking van een flinter vrede kunnen genieten. Bij de publicatie hoort een introductie van Newsweek hoofdredacteur Michael Hirsch, met wie Van Kesteren verschillende angstige momenten in Irak heeft gedeeld.


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