Artist's Statement

Alex Potter

“A Life for a Life” documents my time with a medical team on the front lines of the Battle for Mosul in Iraq. I arrived in Erbil in November 2016 for a personal project, oblivious that the battle to retake the largest city occupied by ISIS had just begun. With hundreds of journalist in-country, I knew I need to put my other skills to work. I’ve been a registered nurse since 2011, focusing on the emergency department, so I approached a small and new group of medics – the only ones active on the front -lines from the beginning. I joined the group of men to treat civilian and military casualties, not realizing how much the thousands of patients we treated would effect myself and other members of my team. We saw the best and worst of humanity on a daily basis, fulfilled by great hopes some days, and were left without hope in humanity on others. The stuff of nightmares that filled our dreams was the product of the tangled mess of bodies and frustration with a system that never seemed to quite work, as well as the feeling we were very alone in our endeavor. I knew I needed to photograph something, to process. The majority of this work is focused on our surroundings: the quiet nights to calm us from the chaotic days, the light and darkness, glare and shadow representing the contrasts and challenges we faced on a daily basis. The few images of the wounded serve to tangibly hint at the lives saved and lost, including the inner lives of our own.