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Digging for Life edition is a poster collection with photographs by photographer Johanna-Maria Fritz. She lives between Berlin and the Middle East and focuses her work on disadvantaged or forgotten groups, women and conflict areas. She studied photography at the Ostkreuz School of Photography in Berlin.

Her work has been published in Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, Le Monde and many others. She has been awarded the Inge Morath Prize, the Peace Prize for Photography and the PH Scholarship for Photography. In 2024, Johanna-Maria Fritz received the World Press Photo Award.

In 2019, Johanna-Maria Fritz traveled to Syria together with journalist Philip Malzahn. In the north, in Raqqa, they met Jumua al-Hamu, a sculptor who protected his artistic work during the IS rule, by burying the artefacts in the soil. When Fritz and Malzahn met him, he was in the process of recovering the pieces from the ground. The full story was published in NZZ in June 2019.

Johanna-Maria Fritz FROM Poster

Ar-Raqqa is the capital of the governorate of the same name on the middle Euphrates in northern Syria. In mid-2013, the city was captured by the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State organizations, who drove out the Free Syrian Army. Raqqa was considered the largest city under the control of the Islamic State and became its unofficial capital, and thus the command center and most important military base of IS until it was recaptured on October 17, 2017.

During the rule of IS, all forms of art were forbidden. Sharia law dominated every aspect of the private lives of many of the inhabitants of the self-proclaimed caliphate. Art, music and poetry were punished with absurd penalties.

Jumua al-Hamu buried his artistic works in the soil of his garden. After the victory over the jihadists, art returned from the underground. So he began to bring his artifacts back to light. Although corruption, mistrust and the threat of new fighting make a return to normality difficult, the sculptor and many other creatives can now work freely again.

For FROM, we have selected some of the mysteriously intimate and wonderfully subtle motifs from the series in Raqqa  — to give them a moment of their own.