The Human Condition
“I’ve spent years travelling the world, witnessing tragedies.Peter Turnley
But the guiding theme of my work has always been empathy
with the people involved in these tragedies.
Photography reflects a moment that touches the heart.“
His first job for Newsweek took him to India in 1984, where he covered the funeral of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, assassinated by her own bodyguards, and the violence that dotted the country after this act of terrorism. This would be a turning point in his life: For 15 years after this assignment, he would continue to work for the magazine in more than 80 countries.
Protests in Tian’anmen square, genocide in Rwanda, civil war and famine in Somalia, apartheid and its fall in South Africa, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Bosnian war, Chechnya, the Gulf War…right up to September 11, 2001 in New York. Plunged into the constant turmoil of the world’s horrors, Peter Turnley brought back images of the headlines, but not only that. During his travels, he also and above all bore witness to the human condition. To the cycles of history and their loyal companions: the distress of exiles, the lost look of Covid victims, the misery of those who have lost everything, and the stunning strength of being able to keep going, again and again. The colours of these photos recall a different era, but their subjects are ageless and could have been taken today, in any of the thirty conflict zones officially recognised by the United Nations.
These gems shouldn’t discourage us. On the contrary. They prove something that Europe had sadly forgotten until 24 February 2022: that peace is something to be cherished and — above all — never taken for granted.