In an age where the world seems both interconnected yet distant, where images flood our screens but realities often remain unseen, one artist has found a unique way to capture the essence of our times. “Do Not Use Other Genocides to Describe This One” is a provocative collection of collages by London-based creative Leila Afghan where heart-breaking images from war-torn Gaza sit alongside pop culture moments that draw on the experience of war to confront our contemporary reality. The series title is a nod to the freudian slip by a University of Vermont student, who went viral in January for a verbal slip at a Burlington City Council meeting where she said she was “appalled” that people were using “other genocides to describe this one,” referring to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.
“I wanted to create something to document the state we are living in,” shared Afghan with MILLE, who aims to challenge the prevalent notion of detachment from global issues in a world where many in Western societies often perceive conflicts and wars as distant spectacles. By juxtaposing images of war with elements of pop culture, the collages compel viewers to recognize the interconnectedness of humanity and the pervasive impact of global events on individual lives. “When it comes to global politics or war, I noticed a lot of people in western society have the mindset of ‘it doesn’t affect my life.’ These collages bring together aspects of war with aspects people can relate to, reminding everyone that humanity as a whole is affected,” shared the photographer and designer.
In a world inundated with images, “Do Not Use Other Genocides to Describe This One” stands out as a poignant reminder of our shared humanity. Afghan compels us to confront uncomfortable truths, to acknowledge the complexities of our global reality, and to recognize the power of art in fostering empathy and understanding. In her series, the artist urges viewers to recognize that hardship knows no borders or boundaries. “Suffering doesn’t have to be happening in a first world country to make it important,” she asserts.
Afghan, who creates these collages on Photoshop reveals her creative process. “I screen shot really powerful images I see,” she explains, “and save them for when I’m in the mood to collage.” The process is intuitive, a fluid amalgamation of visuals that captures the zeitgeist of the moment. The resulting compositions are deliberately messy, mirroring the chaos unfolding in front of us. Initially conceived as personal experiments, these collages have since evolved into a potential avenue for broader artistic expression. While the artist never intended to showcase them publicly, she reveals “Maybe I will.” Here, an exclusive first look at the collage series.