Published by Siglio. Text by Eliot Weinberger. Translated by Elizabeth Zuba.
This exquisitely composed photo-novel by French artist-writer Anouck Durand (born 1975)—collaged from photographic archives, personal letters and propaganda magazines—tells a true story that begins in Albania during World War II, stops in China during the Cold War, and ends in Israel after Communism crumbles.
When the Nazis invaded Albania, teenage partisan Refik Veseli’s Muslim family hid Jewish photographer Mosha Mandil, his wife and two small children. Despite the dire circumstances, Mosha instilled in Refik a great passion for photography, and a friendship was forged in the crucible of war. After liberation, the Mandils left for Israel, inviting Refik to join them, but he stayed behind to contribute to his new nation, not knowing he’d never see his dear friend again.
In a nuanced, wholly imagined story, Durand inhabits Refik’s voice as he narrates his journey to China where—free of Albanian state censors—he attempts to mail a letter to Mosha. She also reveals how photography, used at the behest of merciless state powers, becomes a tool for liberation and human connection. Says Richard McGuire, author of Here: "A timely book about dictatorships, propaganda and friendship. Imagine Art Spiegelman meets Chris Marker, told in gorgeous tricolor photography, a knock out!"