War is always devastating. No matter how long or short, no matter how spread or contained, no matter where in the world it occurs, war damages are never just material, the impact being felt for generations after a conflict is resolved.
On 5 June, a photo exhibition opened at the European Parliament in Brussels, showcasing the destructed state the Karabakh region in Azerbaijan was left after the war, as well as the incredible reconstruction ability of the people living there.
The exhibition portrays the realities of the liberated territories of Azerbaijan, after the destruction and looting carried out on our historical, cultural and religious heritage sites.H.E. Vaqif Sadıqov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Belgium
International award-winning photographer Gregory Herpe travelled to Azerbaijan three times in the course of a year and a half to capture “Karabakh After the War“. “As a photographer, you have to find the positive in every situation. I believe that even when discussing very serious subjects like war, it is important to take beautiful pictures because these will capture the attention of the audience and determine them to read the articles behind”, Herpe said.
We usually think pictures are meant to bring us joy, but here they are a reflection of the natural sadness brought on by the destruction caused by the war.Andris Ameriks, Member of the European Parliament
Herpe first visited Karabakh in 2021, when the conflict in the region had only recently ended. He was stunned to see the power of destruction of the war. At the same time, the mountains surrounding the region still flaunted an untouched natural beauty, creating a somewhat eerie contrast. “You see the incredibly beautiful mountains around, but in the middle only death”, Herpe told Travel Tomorrow.
I was impressed by the extent of the destruction. Hundreds of kilometres of destruction. You see the incredibly beautiful mountains around, but in the middle only death.Gregory Herpe
A few months later Herpe returned to Karabakh. “Things changed in just a few months, it was unbelievable”, he told Travel Tomorrow. The Fuzuli International Airport had been rebuilt in less than a year. Similarly, a brand-new electric power plant had emerged from the rubble near Fuzuli. Many roads had been rebuilt and a garden had opened in Shusha.
More importantly than the damage, Herpe’s photographs capture how, among the remnants of war, everyday life has found a way to continue its course. In a shelled building where the first floor was entirely blown up, residents on the upper floors go on about their business, while on a nearby pitch, children play football. Others, in what Herpe calls “a moment of lightness”, recreate the famous Beatles Abbey Road album cover on a crosswalk in Shusha.
People have always had an incredible ability to overcome the toughest circumstances and, in Karabakh, their resilience prevails.