‘We Don’t Say Goodbye is the result of 10-years of work by photographer Lorenzo Meloni in Iraq, Syria and Libya. The selection of images in the book were taken between 2013 and 2019 and depict the rise, reign, fall and immediate aftermath of the Islamic State as a territorial entity.
Meloni’s original idea was to explore ways of capturing revolts against totalitarianism and the aftermath of colonial undertakings—such as the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, which facilitated the creation of the modern map of the Middle East—by linking the history of countries in revolt with their current events. The announcement of the Caliphate led him to focus on the radical fighters who coalesced into the Islamic State, which proclaimed itself in 2014. This focus brought together the different narratives he had been concerned with: rising extremism, the links between history and the present, the continuing impact of the foreign policy of powerful Middle Eastern countries, and sectarianism.
‘My intention was to try, within the limits of visual language, to understand and rationalise a conflict—its roots and its evolution—and then place it in its historical context. The emergence of the Islamic State was a logical development, and I can potentially understand why many young people in Iraq, Syria and Libya decided to join it’.