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
“You give me access and I give you photos.” That was the deal struck by Dutch photographer Marieke van der Velden and journalist Paulien Bakker, who has covered Iraq extensively. For three intense weeks, they traveled documenting a side of Baghdad that doesn’t often make the news — daily life, families, youth, people living resiliently though the conflict, the tension, the danger. There were four bombings during their stay, one at a Sunni mosque, killing 25. Armed with a Hasselblad, the women had to travel with a male “fixer” who helped them get transportation and the attention of certain male subjects. Yet, meeting two families a day, the duo felt welcome, enthralled by discussions of gender politics with the women and greeted happily by the children. See the photos, as featured on Behance and The New York Times’ Lens blog, and get closer to Baghdad. … Read More
Luckily, most of us will never know the danger of everyday life in a war-torn country — much less what it’s like be part of an invading force in one. The work of photographer Benjamin Lowy, who started covering the Iraq War back in 2003, could help change that. “I began this project as a response to what I felt what the general inability of people back home to comprehend what Iraq is like,” he writes. “Confronted by a level of violence so high that walking on the streets to photograph is tantamount to suicidal behavior, I found myself confined to working with American soldiers, spending most of my time going on various missions while looking at the landscape of this broken country. My only view was through the inches-thick bulletproof window of an Army Humvee.” Click through to view a slide show of what he saw over a six-year period in Iraq, and be sure to check out the book collection of his fascinating photographs, Iraq | Perspectives, which hits shelves today. … Read More
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
In Oren Moverman’s superb directorial debut, two US veterans take on the grimmest of duties: delivering news of the deceased to their next of kin.
For Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson, this operation is a sort of hereafter; Foster is a hero back from the current mire in Iraq, while Harrelson was a soldier during the first. Together, they brave reactions from relatives and loved ones that scale the emotional range. Still, a friendship comes out of the grief and, against procedure, Foster falls for the newly widowed Samantha Morton. Politics aside, The Messenger offers a sober, personal, and thoroughly compassionate portrait of what’s left after the postwar narcotic of anger passes. … Read More
As much as I hate to distract everyone from their Michael Jackson autopsy updates (anyone else smell a backlash a’brewing?) another little piece of news is about to unfold: the end of that little war in Iraq. While we’ve still got a long haul ahead, today’s preliminary pull-out of American troops from Iraqi cities went surprisingly well. While some expected violence occurred, the all-out civil war many are betting on has NOT happened.
Which leads me to wonder… why aren’t Americans celebrating? I don’t expect anything on the scale of last week’s pride parade, but come on kids, shouldn’t we spend a little time singing in the streets? After the jump, a reminder of how we we felt about Iraq before the recession, when a withdraw was all we really wanted. … Read More
Photographer Richard Mosse has recently returned from a month-long trip to Iraq to photograph what remains of Saddam Hussein’s dozens of palaces, now used by American soldiers as make-shift combat headquarters. This month, the American army is set to handover the last of the palaces back to the Iraqi army. Mosse, who has previously photographed war-torn areas of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, sat down with us to discuss his latest project and the deeply disturbing, though darkly humorous, aspects of the ongoing war in… Read More
Generation Kill chronicled Evan Wright’s experience reporting as an embedded journalist in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. His original Rolling Stone articles won him a National Magazine Award, and the resulting book was spun off into an HBO series. But Wright’s writing career didn’t begin with war reporting, and Hella Nation attests to this. It’s a collection of the best of his long-form journalism, comprising thoughtful and immersive portraits of individuals and communities who have seceded from the normal. Hella Nation is stuffed with dispatches from weird America: neo-Nazi conventions, anarchist riots, porn sets, and the living rooms of professional skateboarders. Wright spoke with our sister publication Boldtype about journalism, voyeurism, and his taste for… Read More
The Narcicyst is an Iraqi-Canadian rapper with a searing intellect and a killer sense of humor. Narcy grew up between the UK and UAE, and was one of the originators of the Arab hip-hop movement. He started his musical work in the group Euphrates, but went solo in 2004 when the life of his best friend and bandmate was cut short. Calling himself an “ambassador for conscious Arab hip-hop,” Narcy makes music with the purpose of blowing something up: your mind, sucka. … Read More
Documentary photographer NINA BERMAN’s work focuses on the American political and social landscape. Last year she had a buzzed-about solo show at New York’s JEN BEKMAN GALLERY called PURPLE HEARTS that featured images of wounded Iraq war veterans; this year she returns to the venue with HOMELAND, a series of photographs that she has been working on since 9/11.
Our question for Berman: Does she think that the world is a scarier place now than it was the last time she showed at Jen Bekman? Her response after the jump. … Read More