The War From Here
In an era where the world is scourged by ongoing conflict and ever-shifting battlefronts, images of wars have become almost interchangeable within the news media. Journalistic photography seems to have lost its power to define the essence of individual conflicts, but instead has become an ongoing record of human depravity and suffering. The War From Here presents works of individual artists. yet they are not documents of individual events, but representations of disgust, resistance, empathy or regret. The wars we watch from a distance seem more accessible and the viewer stops being just an indifferent observer and begins to feel.
In this exhibition curated by guest curator of the Krakow Photomonth 2017—Gordon MacDonald—the subjects of mechanised warfare and photography’s documentation of its effects are considered as parallel histories. The exhibition also focuses on the idea of war as a remote event, mostly only revealed to us through information received through traditional media or citizen journalism photographs and news footage, and features artists who manipulate the perception of what war looks like, how we should “feel” about it and what our connection to and complicity in it is.
The artists included in The War From Here approach the subject of war in many different ways, but all use innovative or unusual mechanisms to allow us to consider the way that we view war photographs and, in effect, consume war through images. The approaches range from the digital reconstructions of bomb craters, often made from several original documentary photographs (shot by her and others), in Sophie Ristelhueber’s Eleven Blowups, to the reconstructions of memories through storytelling and snapshot photographs in Monica Haller’s Veterans Book Project and Riley and his story. From the overwhelming clash of images of war in a domestic setting in Martha Rosler’s photomontage series Bringing the War Home, to the extreme clash of environments met by military drone pilots, bombing Middle Eastern sites by virtual interface and returning to Las Vegas immediately afterwards in Lisa Barnard’s project Whiplash Transition.
Finally, in the odd interaction between Nina Berman’s projects Homeland, a documentary project revealing the ways in which war as a product and part of a national identity is promoted in the US, and Marine Wedding, which follows the wedding preparations of a Marine returning from action with horrific injuries.