borders and beyond

Borders and Beyond
Wolf Böwig
photos, diary pages

The plate
The virgin
Pedro Rosa Mendes

Tomorrow, today will be yesterday
Thoughts on crossing borders
Susana Moreira Marques

80 pages
format 178 mm x 250 mm

April 2016

more …

Collage „carnet du voyage VI“

„This foreigner passed here shortly before the war reached this far. The office had not been burned down yet. The foreigner had a letter to send. What do you do for a living, I inquired, while I calculated the distance in stamps from our village to his country.

I send all I know as I learn it, he said, So my children can learn from our distance.

There were five stamps between him and his children: two presidents, two parrots, and one mask in total. Will you take long to return home, I asked, while he organised the stamps with care in the envelope.

Long as they want to grow, he said, handling back the sealed letter.

As the war raged, the letter never left here. I read it often to my children, so they can learn how it was life in peace here.“

by Pedro Rosa Mendes

Collage „carnet du voyage VI“
Kaliwa Lodge, Tanzania


Collage „carnet du voyage VII“

„The high priest took the first king to the White Mountain and told him that

All your tribe is but God’s open pit. They shall dig their way up to salvation: one soul, one gem.

So the first king, and all our kings after him, had the chosen people digging the big mountain. Children would start carving their path from the bottom of the rock, in ascending circles, getting older, weaker, and greedier as they would vanish from the valley. Their eyes were on the summit, their hands on the hammer.
The sacrifice lasted for all our generations, till now: the White Mountain is no longer. We carved it out: it´s God’s grave.
We buried the high priest under a pyramid of gems, and left in search of a new king.“

by Pedro Rosa Mendes

Collage „carnet du voyage VII“
Kaliwa Lodge, Tanzania 


Collage „carnet du voyage VIII“

„There was still a woman who refused to leave. Theirs was the last remaining family in our ancestral lands. The woman kept nurturing the hope of rain. The drought was so severe, though, that her hope evolved into faith, and eventually into madness. She would put her traditional skirt, a wax-printed long cloth showing a pattern of the big falls upstream, and would walk her dusty plot for hours. She would sing, or pray,

I walk the riverbed, I rain my walk, I sweat my land.

When the last grain and the last leaf and the last root were eaten, her husband gave up any hope, both on land and wife. He took her skirt, and left, singing, or praying, bearing a flag with the big falls upstream,

I walk the riverbed, I dry my cry, I sweat my fight.
No living soul was behind when the rain soaked the land.“

by Pedro Rosa Mendes

Collage „carnet du voyage VIII“
Kaliwa Lodge, Tanzania


„wortimbild 012-013-014-015“

Happy are those who died without ever having had to ask themselves: „If they tear out my fingernails, will I talk?“. But even happier are others, barely out of their childhood, who have not had to ask themselves that other question: „If my friends, fellow soldiers, and leaders tear out an enemy’s fingernails in my presence, what will I do?“

Jean Paul Sartre
im 2. Stock der Galerie HERZOGBURG
Burggasse 9
9300 St Veit/Glan

22. 08. 2015, 19.00 Uhr

23. 08. bis 17. 09. 2015

Bird in Flight

Вольф Бёвиг:
«Причина, по которой я решил вернуться в Украину — я ничего не понял»

Bird in Flight
23. Juli 2015


Black.Light Project was chosen by the international jury members among the best projects of the year 2015.
Tbilisi, Georgia
May 2015

Eight screenshots of „reporting violence“ (animation of Black.Light Project) were exhibited at the KOLGA AWARD exhibition in Tbilisi, Georgia and printed in the annual photo catalogue.




03. – 31.03.2015

Boesner GmbH
Bornumer Straße 146
30453 Hannover


It is primitive to assume, or even expect, ‘truth’ to be defined by identical parameters by every faction involved. Truth cannot be isolated. And even if defined, there is the problem of justification, of self interest, that takes the pure and reconcilable truths of a culture or of basic human survival, and bends them.

The semiarid plains of Karamoja in northeast Uganda are home to over one million agropastoralists. The communally-owned land over the past few decades has also been walked upon by warring clansmen and rebels, Ugandan soldiers seeking to disarm and in many cases terrorize the Karamojong people, auxiliary forces, government security personnel, local militia, arms traders, cattle rustlers, and in recent years, international mining companies.
Without day, without voice.

Soldiers in yellow uniforms without a knock on doors, without a word or explanation, arrive and take soil samples from the carefully planted and tended gardens.

Meanwhile back in the the capital, Ugandan government officials accelerate mining licenses to private sector interests by 700 percent over an eight year period. These outside companies mine without consent, impacting or crippling the artisinal gold mining operations established by the rightful landowners, the Karamojong people.

The exploitation of the region’s natural resources, most notably gold and marble, is just one thread in the net of oppression that has gripped Karamoja for generations. The battling in the region between clans and Ugandan soldiers over borders, cattle, and arms has resulted in internal displacement and social fracturing from decades of conflict. Combined with widespread drought leading to famine, and some of the highest poverty levels and malnutrition in the world, the people of this African region live under the assumption of trauma.

Without day, without night, without beginning or end, the distrust and misuse of power exchange hand over hand, year after year. And whether about land use, Kalashnikovs, or gold, the outcome is identical: the marginalization of a population trying to get through their days, to work their land, run their cattle, feed their families, educate their kids, wash their clothes. It’s a fairly ordinary and familiar list of human existence goals. And yet.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
What is the appropriate reply? Who is to give ‘the people,’ Karamoja’s indigenous groups, the truth? And is the truth a straight line, or bent? The assumption of miracles is a privilege afforded to those wielding the power. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end to each day. The cycle of continuity gathers light and replaces it with dark until light washes the early morning sky again. And again. And again. The day arrives. The need to survive remains ever-present. The articulation of that truth and the justice it embodies and even depends on, however, remain deferred.

by Kirsten Rian

„Black.Light ist an“

Das Illustrationsprojekt Black.Light beschäftigt sich mit den Traumata der westafrikanischen Charles Taylor- Kriege der 90er Jahre. Es besteht in einer offenen und variationsreichen Fusion von Bild-und Textdokumenten des Kriegsfotografen Wolf Boewig und des Reiseschrifstellers Pedro Rosa Mendes mit den grafischen Improvisationen einer Reihe namhafter internationaler Comiczeichner. Über mehrere Jahre nahm dieses außergewöhliche Experiment unter der Regie von Wolf Boewig und der grafischen Direktive von Christoph Ermisch allmählich Gestalt an. Andreas Platthaus referierte vor zwei Jahren in der FAZ über die teils enthusiastische aber auch streckenweise frustrationsgestättigte Entwicklungsgeschichte von Black.Light. Sein Beitrag ist hier über die Melton Prior Institute abrufbar.

Das Resultat der langjähren Kollaboration ist nun seit wenigen Tagen auf der eigenen Website zu besichtigen. Das 240-seitige Buch kann hier digital durchgeblättert werden, auch eine animierte Fassung mit gesprochenen Textpassagen ist verfügbar, sowie Dokumentationen von Ausstellungen und Workshops.

Melton Prior Institute
25. Dezember 2014

Black.Light Project Animation/Film

Der Film „Über Gewalt berichten“ – als Teil des Black.Light Projects – wurde für den Deutschen Menschenrechts-Film Preis 2014 in der Kategorie Kurzfilme nominiert.

Deutscher Menschenrechts-Film Preis

Black.Light Project – exhibition

Singapore International Photography Festival 2014
31.10.2014 – 28.12.2014

Presented by SIPF and Noorderlicht (The Netherlands), in partnership with ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands

Black.Light Project – exhibition

4. Mediations Biennale Poznan 2014
„When Nowhere Becomes Here”
20.09.2014 – 27.10.2014