10 days in Mosul



Poet and artist Mustafa al Hamadani at home in East Mosul. ISIS supporters still threaten him.

Janne Körkkö, a Finnish documentary photographer, captures the soul of Mosul in Iraq post the official occupation of ISIS. His series shows a great deal of hope that can been seen in a city through its people. Janne sought this series through by making some risky decisions, sneaking into the city without a visa or permission, he risked being detained as well as being captured by sleeper cell militants of course.


“My photographs are observations. They are questions and answers, a pure documentary about the disfiguration of war. They are portraits born of long conversations - or just surface? They are remarks made by an observer - or maybe just generalisations. I'm not sure, because I'm an outsider, who is on the inside. My photographs are most of all the will to understand, to see and to seek answers.”


Assyrian's annual celebration in Mosul on the 31st of March 2018. The first time for more than four years since the Assyrians celebrated on this event. People lit hundreds of sky lanterns into the sky.


To the prominent figures of the local culture scene, the poets, the musicians, the representatives of minorities and the free-spirited intellects, the devastation of Mosul represented the dark ages: it was an eternity in damnation. Art, the food of the soul, was turned into something criminal and sinful. Practicing it became a death sentence. In small secret societies culture was created at the risk of one's life. The reality of Mosul was - and in part still is - like a gripping fictional film that's all true.


Now trading is back on the streets and lights come up in the amusement parks in the nightfall. Books are back in cafés; people can enjoy them again. Restaurants serve food to smiling and laughing customers. In the background of all this commonplace beauty lie the vast devastation of the cultural traditions and heritage, broken minds and constant fears that may never be put at ease. It feels as if the entire city is in a whirlpool of uncertainty that is just going through a tranquil phase.


Awtar Nergal's callers are practicing at the Book Forum. The band has also been on tour in Europe.




Photography: Janne Körkkö

More of Janne’s work can be seen on https://www.jannekorkko.com/

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