This book is the result of over a year’s work in 2016 and 2017 photographing the military campaign to reclaim Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, from ISIS. Working exclusively for the New York Times, Irish-born photographer Ivor Prickett (born 1983) was often embedded within Iraqi special forces troops as he documented both the fighting and its toll on the civilian population and urban landscape. The operation lasted nearly nine months, resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and ruined vast tracts of the city. Involving some of the most brutal urban combat since World War II, the fall of Mosul was key to the downfall of the Islamic State: soon after, the remains of the so-called “Caliphate” quickly collapsed.
Prickett focuses on the human struggles of conflict. Taken on the frontline, his pictures legitimately and compellingly record the experience of being “caught in the crossfire,” whether as a soldier or noncombatant. He furthermore captures postwar reality while attempting to reconstruct the final weeks of combat: the devastated city, including abandoned corpses of ISIS fighters, and, months later, families searching for missing loved ones and civilians returning to reclaim their homes and lives.
In recent times, Pickett’s series: “End of the Caliphate” was chosen out of over 600 photographers for the final shortlist of twelve artists of the Prix Pictet 2021, whose theme was Hope. It was a particularly significant theme for a world slowly emerging from the shadow of a devastating pandemic and facing equally formidable challenges in the years ahead.
Prickett saw glimmers of hope for humanity amid the rubble-strewn aftermath of Mosul. He met Nadhira, who sat defiantly in a plastic chair as the bodies of her sister and nice, both killed by an airstrike, were uncovered 15 feet away. Her stoicism in the face of absolute loss was a testament to the depth of human strength in the region. His work acts a reminder of the power of people to endure and survive.