Destruction of Memory

Sunday, 26 June 2016

I was at the British Museum to see Destruction of Memory, director/producer Tim Slade’s heartbreaking documentary about the recent cycle of destruction of historic monuments.

The film – click here for a trailer – looks at the most recent outrages, the museum in Mosul in Iraq, the ancient Roman ruins at Palmyra in Syria, the mosque in Aleppo (and much of the city) also in Syria, the buildings and books of Timbuktu in Mali. Or go back just a few years further to the Stari Most bridge at Mostar in Bosnia and countless mosques, churches and other buildings in Sarajevo and other centres in ex-Yugoslavia. It’s not a pretty picture.

IMG_0450 - Frauenkirche, Dresden - 270.◄ Of course some things do get rebuilt, the Frauenkirche in Dresden, Germany was destroyed by Allied bombing in February 1945. Its reconstruction only commenced after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. My photograph is from a visit in 2012.

Mostar - 540▲ The Mostar bridge has also been reconstructed, my photo is from a visit in 2008, but although the bridge reconnects the two sides of the city relations between the two sides are still far from serene.

Afghanistan, Bamiyan, big Buddha niche - 540▲ Sadly, the greatest regret of my travel life is that when I visited Afghanistan in 1972 I didn’t get to Bamiyan to see the Buddha images. When returned in 2006 they were no longer there, destroyed by the Taliban shortly before 9/11. My photograph is of the empty niche of the big Buddha.

Global Heritage Fund are putting on another showing of Destruction of Memory in London on Thursday 7 July at the NBC Universal Private Screening Room, 1 Central Saint Giles St, Giles High St, London WC2H 8NU – click here for ticketing information.