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Adrienne Surprenant Project II


Sleepless Country




Since the Séléka rebel coalition ousted François Bozizé from power in 2013, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been torn apart by a conflict with economic, political, and social roots, which has resulted in ethnic and religious violence. In 2020, prior to the elections, the country's main rebel groups joined forces to destabilize the incumbent president by forming the Coalition of Patriots for Change. Clashes took place in several cities across the country, once again causing people to flee. In 2017, during her first report in the country, photojournalist Adrienne Surprenant is told about nightmares and insomnia. These testimonies reveal a harsh reality: sleep disorders are one of the main symptoms of the traumatic memory that, in the Central African Republic, is linked to the conflict. In CAR, most of the population has witnessed or participated in an act of violence, ranging from rape to murder. Some have taken up arms after seeing their loved ones die. Others, because their daily bread was threatened. When we meet these deeply wounded people, a question arises: what are the possibilities of reconstruction for a society where trauma is the norm? So, following the lead of Dr. Kette, the only psychiatrist in the country, Adrienne Surprenant began asking, "How do you sleep at night?" This question allowed her to address personal trajectories and psychological wounds without risking a second trauma for the interviewee, leaving them the choice to give details, or to express reality through the metaphors of their dreams. From 2017 to 2021, the photographer returned to the Central African Republic and was able to interview PTSD sufferers from a variety of backgrounds. From the fiction of dreams, yet grounded in the reality that inspires them, this reportage tells the story of a country grappling with the omniscient presence of violence and its impact on mental health.

Canon Europe is a sponsor of the Hamburg Portfolio Review
Behörde für Kultur und Medien Hamburg is a sponsor of the Hamburg Portfolio Review
Altonaer Museum is a sponsor of the Hamburg Portfolio Review
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