The head of a young man, his expression serene, emerges from water the color of rust. On the surface, the perfect symmetry of his reflection creates a mirrored presence by tracing the outline of a strange butterfly, a two-headed being with one face turned symbolically towards the future (the sky) while the other is directed towards the past (the water). From the tension between these opposing gazes comes immobility. And so the photos in 'Reaching for Dawn' emanate a kind of mournful expectancy, for theirs is an enigmatic and non-tranquil state, one where the present is always on the point of vanishing. Fixed in a suspended moment in time, human beings, places, landscapes and objects morph into memory. A jagged memory that haunts the history of Liberia, a country where the promise of its name appears to have run aground for now, like a rusty vessel on one of Robertsport's beaches.

As a counterpoint to these images, snatches of testimony recount a night of unspeakable hallucinations where there is killing, and pillaging, and rape, where children are made to consume their innocence in macabre games, where we slaughter our brother and our sister, our father and our mother, and the crime is committed under open skies, for worldwide broadcast, on the thresholds of western embassies which, out of cowardice, look away. And yet what might, from a distance, seem to resemble chaos without faith or law, unfathomable barbarism, atavistic violence, does have a coherence to it, there are mechanisms, causes and responsible parties. But in the absence of trials, commissions, or even the beginnings of any kind of recognition, the crimes of the past continue to haunt the living and to prevent the dead from resting in peace.

Dawn is late arriving because silence and impunity, both venoms from the same bite, poison the present and perpetuate the trauma. A few words are all it takes to express what matters: “But I want the war crimes court to come to Liberia. I pray for it to come. Let it come. We will be free”. Justice is not simply a stage towards reconciliation. It is a mystical quest for those women and men who have lost everything. And this search for truth becomes a promise in itself. Suddenly, it is no longer a question of viewing Liberia exclusively through the lens of its wounds, but above all of seeing all the grace that radiates from its struggle for life, the same life that escapes the dark night in search of dawn.