Self-taught photographer Suzanne Opton, whose work we learned about on website Booooooom, photographed American soldiers at Fort Drum, New York between tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. The resulting series, simply titled Soldier, is an intimate, contemplative look at the effects of war. Each horizontal portrait was presented as a billboard in various cities. Some photos find the military figures gazing back at us with blank and soulful expressions. Others stare off into the distance and remind us that these images could have easily been taken in a hospital bed, or worse. See Opton’s unique perspective on soldiers during combat in our gallery. … Read More
The Wakhan corridor — a 140-mile stretch of rural land in Afghanistan — is home to 12,000 residents, many of whom have never seen a camera, let alone had their picture taken. Inspired by a New York Times article that they read about the rarely-visited region, Fabrice Nadjari and Cedric Houin (aka Varial) decided to visit the area and shoot a series of portraits documenting its citizens. First, they took a Polaroid of each of their subjects, followed by another black and white image of the villager holding their own photo. The expressions found in these second shots — which range from embarrassed to proud to blank indifference — are the most fascinating part of the project.
“Those images led us to amazing encounters,” they write of the experience. “We’ll never forget this head of village who left us go on through his territory without a costly escort of his horsemen — a favor almost never granted to foreigners. Nor this old man who was crying while holding us in his arms, not wanting to let us go when we had to leave to go on with our journey.”
Before they ship out to Iraq and Afghanistan, American soldiers must become familiar with the cultures and landscapes where they’ll be living and fighting. So, for training purposes, the military orchestrates elaborate simulations of the geography, architecture, and people they will encounter in these countries at bases in the US. In her Simulating Iraq series, Boston-based photographer Claire Beckett documents these role-plays, from the civilians and soldiers who take on roles as terrorists and nurses to entire Middle Eastern towns constructed in the California desert. But instead of assuming a polemical tone, Beckett’s photos raise essential questions: “I am interested in the ways that the imagination is at work in these spaces,” she writes. “One wonders, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? Who is a real Iraqi and who is a fake insurgent? What does it feel like for a soldier to play the role of her or his enemy? What does it mean to a young soldier who has their first encounter with difference in this environment?” Click through for ten of the most striking images from Simulating Iraq, and then visit Beckett’s website to see more of the series and her other projects. … Read More
While on tour with the British Army in Afghanistan, photographer Bran Symondson became captivated by the private lives and remarkable contradictions of the life of the ostensibly British and American trained Afghan National Police; he was later commissioned by The Sunday Times and the Ministry of Defence to return to the country to document what he’d witnessed there. The resulting images — which will be on display at London’s … Read More
Lunch is long gone, it’s 4 p.m, pork sales are feeling the fever, Filene’s fans are losing the bargian bin, John Edwards may have hushed up an affair, Nipplegate ’04 STILL isn’t over, Jack Kemp has entered the end zone, Afghanistan is running a warlord, Italy’s Prez is inspiring pervs, a Laos prisoner is pregnant, and work just won’t end. There’s only one way to make it out of this day alive: THE CAT POWER HAPPY HOUR, a new daily pick-me-up from your friends at Flavorpill. After the jump, a picture so cute it’ll turn your cubicle into a den of pure cuddle. (Check back tomorrow, same time, same place for more unhinged adorability). … Read More