A photograph circulates, showing five men staring out of a window. Actually, only four look out; the last man breaks protocol and looks at the camera. The light has a soft glow. The stage is a bombed building. All five men wear military fatigues; the color must have been olive green.
Snapped by a Magnum photographer in 1982, the image is a teasing enigma. Arabic newspapers claim it as evidence of Bangladeshi fighters in the PLO (Fatah faction). Go a little deeper into the memory hole and sediments will darken the third world international.
Still, the light was beautiful.
Abu Ammar is Coming continues The Young Man Was (2006-now) project’s exploration of the 1970s revolutionary left as a form of tragic utopia. Previous chapters have shown at the 2015 Venice Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), and the 2011 Sharjah Biennial.
[Abu Ammar was the nom de guerre of Yasser Arafat. His Fatah faction of PLO fascinated Bangladesh JSD (National Socialist Party) leader Major Jalil, despite the sharper Marxist tendencies of the George Habash faction.]
Main picture credit: Volunteers from Bangladesh fighting with Palestinians, 1982 © Chris Steele-Perkins / Magnum Photos