It's that fire-orange light in the doorway at right, and the overcast blue glow outside, that make this photograph stand out. If André Liohn had taken it at any other moment, in any other light, it would be just another banal image of war. That it is not just another shot has now been confirmed, since it just helped Liohn win the Robert Capa Gold Medal of the Overseas Press Club of America. (The award ceremony is on April 25.) The photo ran in the May 9, 2011, issue of Newsweek's international edition, and is from a portfolio titled "Almost Dawn in Libya," made up of striking images shot by Liohn in the besieged city of Misrata before the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. The OPC's medal-givers called the series "a first rate example of close quarters combat photography obtained at great personal risk." But for me, what matters in this particular image is the very special, very classical beauty of the light in the picture as a whole – and the fact that the fighters in it could never have acknowledged that there was anything but horror around them. The photo's blues and oranges seem to echo some of the greatest Islamic ceramics. (Their famous blue glaze, at least, is right there in the tiling of the fountain in the shot.) And the siege of Misrata represents an attack on everything such cultural treasures stand for.
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