50s to 90s Mags & Books Photography

Aftermath: Kuwait, 1991

There is a book I’ve been wanting to post about since September, but I held myself back since I wanted to at least get a copy of the book for myself before I tell everyone about it. The book is called “Aftermath” and was originally published back in 1992 in French under the name “Fait” (which means fact) and a year later published in English. The book is by the French photographer Sophie Ristelhueber who came to Kuwait at the end of the Gulf War to document the traces of conflict. Her series of photographs were then published in her book as well as being exhibited in galleries and museums around the world include the TATE Modern Museum. In the short video below by TATE, Sophie discusses her photographs, her journey to Kuwait and why she captured what she captured.

SOPHIE RISTELHUEBER (French, b. 1949) traveled to Kuwait at the end of the Gulf War to record the physical traces of the conflict. Entitled Fait or Fact, the resulting series of photographs—aerial and ground-level, in color and black-and-white—depicts trenches and tank tracks, bomb craters, dense smoke rising from blazing oil wells, battle detritus scattered in the sand. Ristelhueber hangs the large prints in an expansive grid that at first reads as a beautiful abstract field, then reveals itself to be a reconstitution of the battlefield on the gallery wall. –MoMA

The book isn’t that difficult to come by if you’re willing to throw money at it. Right now there are three copies on AbeBooks but with prices ranging from KD150 to KD230, you might find them for slightly cheaper at around KD130 if you look around the web. Personally, I didn’t want to pay so much since I tend to buy a lot of old books and trust me, it adds up. So I waited and waited for the right copy until a few weeks ago a bookseller in Germany put an original French version up for sale for around KD90. I guess due to the current situation I was able to negotiate the price and bring it down to a much more reasonable KD50.

Unlike other books and photographers of the 1990 war, there is something beautiful in the way Sophie captures the scars. You really need to watch the video above to understand why she captured it the way she did but the end result is breathtaking.

The fact it’s the French version isn’t an issue since the book is filled with photos and just has one spread that actually has any text on it. If you have the chance to purchase it, I highly recommend you do. If you don’t want to spend so much for the original, there is a publisher called Errata that has published the book as part of their books on books series. It doesn’t come in the original form factor, but it does contain all the photos and is priced at just KD15. You can find more info on that here.

There are around 70 photos in total but if you’d like to see more then check out Sophie’s website here.

Update: Sorry video wasn’t embedded properly, just fixed it

19 replies on “Aftermath: Kuwait, 1991”

Kuwait: The class of 1990:
Hearts of Palm:
BBC Documentary – Last Flight to Kuwait:

and finally not directly related to the 1990 invasion but a great short series nevertheless

House of Saddam

I should really watch it again, its like Narcos before Narcos.

You have a great collection of the history of Kuwait. Do you have any bigger plans for what to do with your collection or is it just a private hobby at this point.

I left Kuwait a couple of years ago but still enjoy reading the blog and the history of Kuwait you share.

Honestly, I don’t have plans really, I just feel a lot of things will disappear and it kinda worries me so I’m just trying to get them before they’re all gone and share them on the blog. I need to figure out how to share them properly eventually but for now I’m just getting them and I’ll figure things out later down the line.

I think you misread. The book doesn’t cost $50, it costs anywhere from $450 to $700.

$50 is for the books on books version which is a book that has photographs of spreads of this book.

$450-$700 is expensive but its an out of print book and out of print books usually fetch a sum a lot greater than their original prices. I wouldn’t pay that much and I didn’t, but there are people who are willing to pay that much. Is it highway robbery? Don’t think so, it’s the market price for this book.

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