Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, A member of a Sunni militia guarding his area in Adhamiya in Baghdad. Baghdad, Iraq, March 6, 2008
In a timely reflection on the quagmire that is the Middle East, guest curator T.J. Demos has assembled photographic and video works by 15 artists who engage the subject of contemporary war. In particular, Demos asks how the ideal of objective representation ingrained in photojournalism has been transformed in recent years.
Most notably, Walid Raad offers arrestingly beautiful black-and-white photos covered with multihued dots that correspond to the various color codes found on discharged bullets he collected as a child in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war. Raad later learned that the colors denoted the country of the cartridge's manufacture, a fact that connects his personal recollection to larger political forces. Ahlam Shibli's photo series, "Arab al-Sbaih," which documents Palestinian refugees in Jordan, has a similar resonance. The project’s Arabic title is the original name of the village, currently in Israel and now renamed, from which Shibli’s family was expelled in 1948.
Although war and human suffering are constant companions, Sean Snyder reveals the often banal nature of this truism in a collection of amateur photos taken by soldiers and contractors in Iraq. The accumulation of ordinary details--dogs, street signs, hot rods, sunsets--brings us only closer to war's perversity. And lest the decision makers forget combat’s real toll, Sam Durant envisions a group of imagined Iraq memorials, constructed of battle debris, for the U.S. Capitol and the White House. The overwhelming message of this exhibition is that while impartiality is nonexistent when the personal and political intertwine, creativity is a consistent form of truth.
— Nuit Banai
Image Wars: Conflict, Media, Globalization
A symposium in conjunction with
the exhibition Zones of Conflict
2-6 p.m. Friday, January 30, 2009
Lecture Hall 213,
next to Pratt Manhattan Gallery
144 West 14th Street, 2nd Floor