Image: Melanie Friend

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The police kept shouting, “Better surrender, otherwise we will roast you like a pig and use your skin to make pockets.” My father was shouting back, “Kosova Republic,” “Never die Albania”…then the police began to beat up the children and to hold them in front of them so my father couldn’t fire. Then he started to talk to me and said, “If the bullet hits me from the back, then you may cry for me, because I’ll feel that I have handed over Kosova to Serbia. If the bullet hits me from the front, in my chest, then I don’t want any of you to cry for me.” —from Homes and Gardens (London: Camerawork, 1996)

After visiting Kosovo several times as a journalist, Melanie Friend returned in October 1994 to talk again to the people who had been subject to the Serbian regime’s “slow-motion ethnic cleansing.” Struck by the contrast of sitting in “reassuring and tranquil” living rooms and “hearing tales of torture,” she began a project that documents the “invisible trauma” of living in a police state. Pairing survivors’ graphic testimony about human rights abuses with images of where that violence took place, Friend illustrates the transformation of the most domestic spaces into the most sinister. Her work will be exhibited at the Houston Center for Photography from September 18 to November 1.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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