Published just this week, Yes To A Rosy Future is a collection of unsettling photographs that cast new light on the conflict in Syria. Taken back in 2007, photographer Nicolas Righetti arrived in Damascus when preparations for the Syrian election were well under way. The City was saturated with one image: that of the unopposed President, Bashar al’Assad, who was to be re-elected for another seven years. Captured in captivating colour, the set of photographs record Bashar al’Assad’s publicity of monumental portraits and publicity handouts, shot in public and private settings. The title of the book, Yes To a Rosy Future , is the harrowing slogan taken from the campaign propaganda.
This small book carries a striking contradiction, the jovial and beautiful images clash sharply with the sinister politics that lay behind the message being projected. The pages of images are complimented by the statements from Bashar al’Assad’s official speeches, documenting fully Righetti’s experience in Damascus during the election. Considering the relationship between the ruler and his people, Christian Brändle presents an afterword that examines how Bashar al’Assad’s image is used to subtly infer his omnipresence, a smiling face always watching his people.
We now see the full irony of these images, and the devastating truth behind this apparently positive future. Four years after these images were shot in early 2011, protests rose up in Syria, and so beginning the train of horrific violence that has since followed. These haunting images and slogans have today gained a new relevance, these images that previously suggested stable power and a “rosy future” now become portraits of sugar coated repression.
All photos courtesy of Nicolas Righetti, taken from Yes to a Rosy Future, £13 from Trolley Books in collaboration with Work Is Progress.