what they don't want us to see in Iraq and Afghanistan

inside the gallery the caption reads: Yuri Kozyrev Iraq 2007 US forces mark Iraqis with serial numbers to track movements in and out of village

inside the gallery the caption reads: Jared Moossy Afghanistan 2007 An [sic] wounded American soldier is airlifted by helicopter in eastern Afghanistan

I really, really would like to get away from what my grammar school teachers called "current events" and what I call "matters of life and death", and go back to posting about the fine arts, but my intentions are being confounded by both events and the art. Yesterday, after visiting the group installation "The Ballot Show", about you-know-what, at the Front Room Gallery in Williamsburg, I headed a little further west to the Sideshow Gallery's "Battlespace: Unrealities of War", and there I almost lost it.

These are images by 23 photographers "embedded" with our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under the terms of their being allowed there they are forbidden to publish, in their regular commercial news outlets, the more violent images of injury and death hanging on the walls in this gallery. And so the wars go on, with the citizens who sustain them easily able to ignore the worst of what is being done in their name to both American troops and the "enemy".

People elsewhere in the world don't have this luxury; they've been shown such photographs since the wars began.

While in the gallery I couldn't quite bring myself to photograph the most obscene images of mutilations and carnage. I cannot explain why, even to myself, especially since broadcasting them is precisely the intent of the photographers and the purpose of this installation.

I found the Battlespace site itself only a few minutes ago, so I'm using its images rather than my own, and, hoping to redeem myself for my timidity yesterday, I've decided to upload below one of the most powerful images I saw, one which I did not capture with my camera. I should add that it is not the most grotesque: This body was still living, and being attended by medical personnel.

Inside the gallery on Bedford Street the wounded soldier on the table appears almost, literally, "life size". The scale in which it appears online can barely suggest the horror of what you are actually looking at.

inside the gallery the caption reads: Lucian Read Iraq 2006 American soldier lies on an operating table in Ramadi after being wounded in an IED blast

Visit the exhibition itself before it closes next Sunday. You will never forget it.

[all images from Battlespace]

About this Entry

Published on November 9, 2008 8:11 PM.

previous entry: Obama's change will require something like revolution

next entry: three wars