Gaddafi’s Libya: Photographs by Christopher Morris

Gaddafi's Libya, Christopher Morris: A loyalist fighter in Ras Lanuf.
Christopher Morris—VII for TIME
A loyalist fighter in Ras Lanuf.

Christopher Morris is familiar with working in controlled environments. From following the rigid protocols of the White House to the totalitarian bubble of North Korea, he has captured lyrical and telling moments under watchful eyes and strict boundaries. Over the last two weeks, Morris, a TIME contract photographer, has been on assignment in Libya and encountered some surprising similarities to some of the places he’s worked in the past.

“You have a government that only wants you to see a very narrow view of reality, a view that is almost always something that is being created especially for you.” Morris said. “The real challenge is to look beyond that and discover the little photographic jewels that you might encounter along the way.”

Morris is relatively free to work in Tripoli, but nowhere else. “You cannot venture outside of the capital without getting detained or worse,” he said. “Even here in Tripoli, you have to be very aware of what and where you’re photographing.”

Images of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi blanket the city, and pro-government rallies are frequent. “As a photographer, you put yourself quite close to the people,” he said. “You can see some people at these staged events that are off on the sideline. They aren’t screaming or jumping up and down. They are just there, staring, almost as if in a daze. You can sense they really don’t want to be there.” But Morris said some of the supporters are authentic. “The love and support from the citizens that your handlers want you to see is very real and genuine, no different than I have seen in our own country.”

Since the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution Thursday authorizing a no-fly zone and military action in Libya, tensions are rising in Tripoli. Morris said that government minders discouraged him from leaving the hotel on Friday, in fear for his safety. But he’s eager to keep working. “I knew yesterday was too soon to pull out,” Morris said.

Related Topics: , , , , , , ,

Latest Posts

The henna is a pre-nuptial cerimony celebrated in Moroccan or Yemenite families where the soon-to-be bride is dressed-up as a Queen with flowers and jewels and she is inivited to dance with her girl friends to say good-bye to celibacy and life as a single young girl. During the dance cerimony, the Kallah, the bride-to-be's hands and feet are painted with henne`, the red pouder from India. This welcomes fertility and happinesses within the marriage. Meah Shearim, Jerusalem, Israel. July 2012.

Finding Faith and Beauty in the Lives of Orthodox Jewish Women

For four years, Italian photographer Federica Valabrega has photographed the everyday lives of Orthodox Jewish women around the world

Read More
A suspected migrant runs back to Miguel Aleman, Mexico after being pursued by agents near Roma, Texas. Oct. 8, 2014.

Photojournalism Daily: Nov. 26, 2014

Stephen Waddell

Off the Radar: Jeff Wall Puts the Spotlight on Stephen Waddell

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,365 other followers