POPPY – Trails of Afghan Heroin
The book and the multimedia exhibition, presented in 2013 at Mudam in Luxembourg, embody twenty years of reporting from journalists Antoinette de Jong and Robert Knoth.
As they were working separately and together, travelling from East to West, they decided to develop a personal project in a close collaboration. The Poppy journey starts in Afghanistan, tracks through Central Asia, the Balkans, Dubai, Somalia and ends in London. This is a dark version of the ancient Silk Road, which comes to live through a huge number of documentation, interviews with persons involved in different ways in the traffic of heroin: addicts, smugglers, farmers, soldiers, prisoners, even bankers and prostitutes. This juxtaposition of stories and the in-depth investigation were finally too complex for a classic report for mainstream media.
Robert Knoth and Antoinette de Jong documented in astonishing detail the trails of Afghan heroin for two decades, covering the rise of the Taliban, the American intervention after 9-11 and the recent surge in opium production.
In a long talk with Kulturstruktur, they explain the reason for working on these complex topics as well as the possibilities and limits of journalism. The result is characterised by a poetic treatment and an innovative multimedia installation. The audiovisual part was created by Peter Claassen, who was responsible for the concept and for the editing, the soundscape was created by Mark Glynne. It combines still and moving imagery, sound bites from radio transmissions, quotes originating from official reports and news, and excerpts from youtube, thus creating a cinematic experience for the visitor.
With Poppy, Antoinette de Jong and Robert Knoth capture and show one of the darkest sides of globalisation.