Solo Artist 2022

ALEXANDRA ROSE HOWLAND

Leave and let us go

Leave and Let Us Go is the culmination of my photographic work across Iraq over the last 5 years. For generations, the Middle East has been solely defined for the West by conflict and this work aims to challenge how geopolitical events and their impact are presented.

Leave and Let Us Go began in 2017 during the Mosul Offensive with an 88km panoramic image of Mosul Road, the main thoroughfare connecting Erbil to West Mosul. Sitting on top of a truck, I took 1 image every 3 seconds and manually stitched each image together to create a visual of the landscape and daily life along a road that connected the heart of the proclaimed ISIS Caliphate to a city they could not capture.

As I continued to cover the offensive, I became acutely aware that what a foreigner views and photographs does not always embody the lived reality of locals. One day a soldier sat next to me and shared photos on his phone: His kills. His wife. His wedding night. His children. This interaction repeated with myriad Iraqis who wanted their lives witnessed, not just represented.  I began asking to download these first-person accounts; over the next 3 years, I built an archive of 350,000 images and videos from over 50 individuals across Iraq. The resulting Leave and Let Us Go is a multi-dimensional portrait that returns the narrative power to its own citizens and challenges the foreigner’s gaze.  

Leave and Let Us Go is comprised of sections from the panoramic of Mosul Road, phone images, scanned family albums, found objects and my own documentation throughout Iraq. Images taken from phones and scanned images are noted within the captions. 

BIOGRAPHY

Alexandra Rose Howland (1990, US/UK) has spent much of the last decade living in the Middle East creating work that challenges traditional coverage of the region and its geopolitics.

As her projects on climate, migration, conflict, and post-conflict evolve, her work has expanded into North Africa and Europe. 

Howland’s background as an abstract painter continues to impact her practice, leading to a multidimensional approach using imagery, found objects, collage, sound, and video. Her projects span years and often result in vast archives that seek to examine people and places from multiple perspectives, all of which challenge the accepted narrative. Howland’s work challenges us to reimagine the stories we have already seen. 

Howland has shown internationally with both solo and group exhibitions including ‘Leave and Let Us Go’ (solo), FOAM Amsterdam; ‘Road to Mosul’ (solo), London; ‘Textured to Only Us’ (solo), Los Angeles; Photo Lux Festival (group), Tuscany; ‘Where I Lay My Head’ (group), Sydney, among others. Howland published her first book ‘Leave and Let Us Go’ with GOST Books in 2021 and regularly works with National Geographic, Le Monde, de’Volkskrant and Wall Street Journal, among others.