Philippe Dudouit


Philippe Dudouit

'Sahel – The Dynamics of Dust', photo report


Jury report

Haunting Images from a Forgotten Conflict Zone
How is it pos­si­ble to ad­e­quately doc­u­ment the life of rebels in the Sahel? With the means of clas­sic pho­to­jour­nal­ism, the pho­tog­ra­pher Philippe Du­douit from Lau­sanne ap­proaches a re­gion which is among the poor­est and most in­hos­pitable in the world. His photo pro­ject is en­ti­tled 'Sahel – The Dy­nam­ics of Dust'. In 2008, he spent three months with Tu­areg rebels in the north of Mali and Niger and has spo­rad­i­cally re­turned to this area ever since – the pro­ject is thus a work in progress. What Du­douit brings back are haunt­ing im­ages of a for­got­ten con­flict zone. When the for­mer Sahel no­mads began to set­tle down, arms and drugs smug­gling be­came ram­pant, ul­ti­mately lead­ing to an al­most total col­lapse of tourism. Rad­i­cal Is­lamic groups now re­cruit young peo­ple in the area, while rebel groups fight against the cen­tral gov­ern­ments in Mali and Niger. Philippe Du­douit avoids suc­cumb­ing to the lure of the ex­otic and cre­ates silent and un­spec­tac­u­lar im­ages: an air­plane wreck in the sand of the desert, a fallen tower which is al­ready half cov­ered in sand, a stranded ar­moured per­son­nel car­rier in the court­yard of a build­ing, with armed sol­diers next to it. Du­douit in a gen­tle way por­trays the peo­ple, often chil­dren and youths. A young man proudly poses in a red-brown batik robe, wear­ing a beige tur­ban and white plas­tic san­dals. The image is ac­tu­ally un­spec­tac­u­lar. Only a sec­ond look re­veals that on his chest the young man wears a green army pouch which prob­a­bly con­tains am­mu­ni­tion. An­other image shows Mo­hammed, a young man with a green tur­ban, blue flip-flops, and a red-or­ange T-shirt with 'King's County' printed on it. He – and even this is not im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent – is hold­ing a Kalash­nikov in his hands. He de­scribes him­self as 'self-em­ployed' and lives in the North of Niger, in a rebel and civil war zone which is largely ig­nored by the West. The pic­tures of the pho­tog­ra­pher trained at the School of Pho­tog­ra­phy in Vevey are silent but haunt­ing. They stick in our vi­sual mem­ory.
Peter Stohler


Philippe Dudouit
Born in