THU TO SUN 10.00 a.m. – 7.00 p.m.

Raffaele Petralla

“Living on bombs – Legacy of the Secret War in Laos”

Location: LAOS

Laos is the country that counts “the most per capita bombs in history”. More bombs have been released on Laos than those dropped on Europe by the U.S. and Nazis during the Second World War. From 1964 to 1973 the U.S. Air Force dropped the amount of 270 million cluster bombs on the region – an average of one every 8 minutes – as part of a long military operation that was kept secret until 1991. According to the National Regulatory Authority for Unexploded Ordnance, 30% of these bombs have remained unexploded causing 50,000 victims; 20,000 since the end of the war. This deadly legacy continues today to threaten the lives of thousands of communities in Laos. It will takes about 150 years to reclaim the entire territory. In 2016, Barack Obama, the Sirst U.S. president to visit Laos, promising to allocate 90 million dollars to support the operations.
Laotians have spent about 20 years trying to escape the bombing, taking refuge in thousands of forests and caves where they’ve built schools and hospitals, which remained in use for a long time, even after the bombings. Nowadays, most Laotians don’t want to enter the caves anymore, fearing the presence of negative spirits caused by atrocious deaths.
In some remote villages, bombs are used as pillars for houses while other villages base their business on the manufacture of items of everyday use such as spoons, bracelets and pots, obtained from the recycling of bombs, missiles and even American B52 aircraft, which have now become canoes used for fishing.


Raffaele Petralla is a documentary photographer, photography teacher and Silmmaker. After working for several years as lighting assistant, focus puller and camera operator, he decides to devote himself entirely to reportage photography and documentary video, with particular attention to social and anthropological issues. His works have been published in major international media such as National Geographic, NY Times, Internazionale and many others.He has received many international awards worldwide. Since 2015 he has been a member of the Prospekt Photographers agency. He teaches photography at the Spaziotempo School in Bari.In 2021 he published the book “Mari El, a pagan beauty” edited by Voglino Editrice.