A terrorist organization has become a state. A very particular one, with borders defined by an invisible conflict and with a heterogeneous population, Western and Eastern at the same time. This is ISIS, the mysterious Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham that, until now, has shown itself to a skeptical West only through images, raw footage of decapitations shown and shared via social media. Are these images true? How can we believe something that is known only through videos and photographs—especially since these are more effective at generating fear when hidden and censored by a Western media hoping to control a propaganda machine that has already gone too far, even in this world dominated by violence.
Places is an attempt to focus on these themes—on the power of images, on the violence of images, on images’ ability to tell the truth. We are two women from Italy, and with this project we want to think about the role of women inside ISIS. Orange and black represent two poles of an explosive mix of violence and torture: the United States–run Guantanamo Bay and the ISIS decapitations. The obsessive self-representation of ISIS reveals its members as photojournalists of themselves. Perhaps all we can do is figure out how to reinterpret their semantics. This is Places—a trip to the Islamic State, without setting foot outside of your home.