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The Remnants

No other country in history has been shelled as Laos. The country never participated formally in the Vietnam war, yet, between 1964 and 1973, it was attacked by roughly 500.000 U.S Army aviation missions, that dropped around 2 million tons of explosive within its borders. Forty years later, everything has changed, but, the life of Laotian is still very much conditioned by the presence of war remnants, scattered everywhere in the country, from the cultivated fields, to forests, villages and towns.

Dozens of humanitarian organizations organize daily demining operation. Yet, given the current rhythm, they’ve estimated that it will take around 100 years to clean the soil. In the meantime, accidents occur everyday, especially among children that consider metal picking as an important source of income.

What remains is both a danger and a resource: the same bombs that, from the end of the war till now have provoked more than 22.000 victims, were transformed into tools, boats, construction material. Unexploded ordnances are also considered as goods to be sold on the metal market.

This phenomenon highlights all the contradictions of contemporary war, both total and asymmetrical. The remnants of war live beyond the mere conflict. Destruction hand in hand with construction, old injuries get healed, new possibilities come to light, while the Laotian people tries to unite good and the evil by recycling objects of death into tools that benefit their daily life.