What began in the early 1990s as a series of news assignments, evolved into a personal project and close collaboration between Robert Knoth and Antoinette de Jong. Their journey begins in Afghanistan, tracks through Central Asia, the Balkans, Dubai, Somalia and ends in London.
This modern trade route, a dark version of the ancient Silk Road, comes alive through the voices, faces and stories of farmers, soldiers, smugglers, prisoners, bankers, prostitutes, addicts and border guards. These stories are easily overlooked or bypassed as too complex for mainstream media. For De Jong and Knoth however, they were key components of their in-depth investigation.
Robert Knoth and Antoinette de Jong documented the trails of Afghan heroin for two decades, covering the rise of the Taliban, the American intervention after September 9/11 and the recent surge in opium production. Poppy uncovers the relationship between ‘far-away’ places such as Kandahar, Bishkek and Tirana, and the day-to-day events in our own neighbourhoods, such as street crime, drug addiction and even terrorism. By connecting the dots, Knoth and De Jong disclose the ever more complex patterns of our globalised world.
As Poppy evolved to illuminate the network of heroin’s cultivation and distribution across the globe, it outgrew conventional and short form journalistic formats – necessitating its own, more immersive experience. The four screen multimedia installation created by Peter Claassen, who was responsible for the concept and the editing, and the soundscape created by Mark Glynne, combines still and moving imagery, sound bites from radio reports, quotes originating from official reports and news, and excerpt from youtube, and thus creating a cinematic experience for the visitor.
Jeroen Kummer and Arthur Hermann designed the 492 pages thick book by weaving images and text together, not pulled back by traditionally views into a raw stream of stories shaking the readers mind. Connecting the dots between supply and demand, between us standing here in Europe and the locations and conflicts that can seem so distant on news reports, the complexity and global scale of Poppy mean that it is a story which is not simple to tell, but one that matters to us all. The publication is a richly illustrated journey—supplemented by facts, stories, and quotations.
Selection '150 Greatest Photobooks of All Time', Source Photographic Review (2016)