Tag Archives: Armed Conflict

This Means War: A Look at Conflict Photography

“War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath,” is a huge, tough-minded and very moving new show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. It lays out the ways cameras have been put to use during 165 years of world wars, undeclared hostilities and barely organized fang baring. Cameras turn out to be the transformer tools of warfare, adaptable as battlefield aids for reconnaissance and surveillance, as peerless instruments of propaganda and, above all, as a means to witness the atrocious facts of war. You may not be able to end war with a camera, but you can do a lot of useful things with one — even tell the truth.

Instead of being organized chronologically, the Houston show suggests that war is better considered as an eternally recurring narrative. It divides its story into chapters, from prewar buildup through postwar remembrances, with wars from all periods combined in each. The weaponry evolves from sabers to torpedoes to rocket-propelled grenades. (For the record, sharpened steel is forever.) The photo equipment changes from 19th century box cameras to cell phones and satellites. But the fundamentals of war — brutality and suffering, grief and self-sacrifice — don’t change much. They haven’t since the first time a caveman figured out how to use a rock.

The main problem for war photography today is image overload. The tidal wave of pictures all around us, with every cell phone adding to the deluge every day, threatens to make even atrocity photos into just more pictures, as morally weightless as the movie stills they so often resemble. For all that, the scores of unforgettable pictures in “War/Photography” make clear that even in a world that contains too many pictures, pictures of war, the best ones, still have the power to stir your emotions. They may not be able to compel any particular judgment about the wars they represent, but they can insist that attention must be paid. After that, if photos by themselves can’t stop war — and they can’t — then the fault is not in our pictures but in ourselves.

(MORE: Read more of Richard Lacayo’s take on the show.)


WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath is on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston until Feb. 3 and will then move to Los Angeles, Washington and Brooklyn.

Richard Lacayo is an art critic and editor-at-large at TIME.



Tearsheet of The Day | Yuri Kozyrev photo of Saddam’s ‘rat hole’ in FT Weekend

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, unveiled their survey of war photography, WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, on Armistice Day yesterday. The FT Weekend magazine featured some of the work from the exhibition in their latest issue. You can view the FT article and slideshow here.  You can also read about the show over at Photo District News, which interviewed the exhibition’s curators.

Below war in Iraq photograph from 2003 by Yuri Kozyrev, which FT Weekend ran as a double truck.

p. 20-21. FT Weekend Magazine. November 10/11 2012 issue.
Photo © Yuri Kozyrev.
“A journalist climbs out of the hole where toppled dictator Saddam Hussein was captured in Ad Dawr. Iraq’s defeated leader raised his arms out of his ‘rat hole’ and said he was Saddam Hussein and that he wanted to negotiate. “ Iraq. December 15, 2003. Inkjet print.

Yuri Kozyrev (Russian, b. 1963) is a member of Noor Images and a contract photographer with Time magazine.

Violentology: Stephen Ferry Documents the Colombian Conflict

Photographer Stephen Ferry has spent ten years documenting the ongoing internal armed conflict in Colombia — a situation that, he says, is often overlooked or miscast as a ‘drug war’ outside of the country. In his recently-published book, Violentology: A Manual of the Colombian Conflict, Ferry presents a comprehensive look at this incredibly complicated and brutal conflict with the use of his own photographs, historical imagery and text.

Printed on heavy newsprint and produced on the rotary press of the Bogota daily newspaper El Espectador, Violentology’s physicality references the tradition of print journalism  an industry which has played a central role in shedding light on many of the atrocities committed in Colombia.

“The point here is not just to present photographs but also that they be accompanied by an investigation that is very serious,” said Ferry. “And all of that really detailed and important and dramatic information is information that came from the Colombian press. So, I wanted the design to reflect my respect for their practice.”

The book’s outsize pages are the width of magazine spreads, another nod to print journalism, but also, Ferry said, a way to get readers to spend time with the tome.

“The topic is a very serious one and its not necessarily a topic that is in the headlines, so I wanted to use whatever visual and design strategies I could in order to slow the readers’ down and keep people’s attention on the subject,” he explains.

Ferry’s Violentology project was awarded the inaugural Tim Hetherington Grant in 2011 by World Press Photo and Human Rights Watch. Additional support from the Open Society Institute has helped to make the book available in both Spanish and English versions. Selected chapters are also available as downloadable PDFs.

Stephen Ferry is a photojournalist whose work has received numerous honors from World Press and Magnum Foundation among others. See more of his work here.

Violentology was recently published by Umbrage Editions. See more about the book here

Rémi Ochlik’s Revolutions

“War is worse than drugs. One moment it’s a bad trip, a nightmare. But the next moment, as soon as the immediate danger has passed, there is an overpowering desire to go back for more. To risk one’s life in order to get more pictures in return for not very much. It is an incomprehensible force that pushes us to keep going back in.”

Rmi Ochlik, 2004

This spring, after French war photographer Rmi Ochlik was killed during fighting in Homs, Syria, a group of close friends and colleagues felt their obligations to the photographer weren’t complete. Meeting aboard a TGV train on their way to Paris from the World Press awards ceremony in Amsterdam in late April, the group took stock of everything that had happened since Rmi’s death. find personal injury attorney . His photographs had spoken for themselves when exhibited in tribute in Amsterdam. The large circle of friends gathered in his name was a testament to his character; he was always the guy who would make friends sharing a cigarette. But one duty remained unfinishednot a tribute, nor a memorial, but a commitment to continue what was and what should have been in Rmi’s life.

Now, five months later, Revolutions is finisheda book of 144 pages, across which Rmi’s photographs of the Arab Spring spread forth. The tome depicts hope, anger, celebration and fearsome of humanity’s most powerful emotions recorded in photographsand feelings the photographer undoubtedly felt during a career cut short by the harsh realities often facing those documenting armed conflict.

Scattered through this visual record of Rmi’s witness are the words of friends, which encompass close confidants, long-time coworkers and fellow photographers. Their testimonies are short, speaking to the memories of a man killed at a time and place in the world many photographers hesitated to cover.

Ochlikbegan his photography of the Arab Spring in Tunisiaand so the book does the same. “It is impressive to see the ease with which he moves through the street as the rocks fly everywhere,” writes Julien De Rosa of his shared time with Rmi outside Tahrir Square in Cairo. “This is clearly his natural environment.”

Rmi, considered by colleagues an old-school photographer despite his youngage (29), moved with confidence and resolve through the borders of conflict in the Middle East. This is what makes his death that much more painful, for at his age and with his skill, his potential had seemed limitless.

“Be safe, okay?” were the last words that Gert Van Langendonck told Rmi before his final trip to the besieged city of Homs. “You’ve already won your World Press Photo.” And indeed Rmi’s work was deserving of high honorhis story from Libya earned him first prize in the 2012 World Press Photo competition’s General News category. His photographic eye was strongstrengthening, evenas he entered Syria. A vision deserving of high honor, cut short by a barrage of shelling that also killed American correspondent Marie Colvin.

Rmi was often aware that he didn’t have a personal project in the works, Van Langendonck told TIME. Personal projects provide an outlet for photographers to explore their interests outside of commissioned editorial work, allowing for an inner-consistency even as a photographer’s surroundings are rapidly changing. So caught up in his work, Remi didn’t need it “I’ve never had so many of my pictures published in my life,” he told Van Langendonck.

After paying the ultimate price for his work, Rmi’s personal project became clear. Although the future promise of the French photographer will never be fully realized, the publishing of Revolutions has brought a modicum of closure.

Revolutions is nowavailable through Emphas.is. The book project, funded by contributors, raised $24,250 as of Sept. 4, exceeding its original fundraising target of $15,000 by almost 40%.

Richard Mosse: Infra @ Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool

All photography is a kind of step away from reality. Few photographers within the documentary genre have gone further to embrace this notion than Richard Mosse, whose current photo project exploring armed conflict in the eastern province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Richard Mosse: Infra, opens today at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool.

“Documentary photography is now at the moment where it has to change,” says Mosse. “It is behind the times – the forms of modern conflict are profoundly complex; their narratives are impossibly difficult to convey.”

Investigating a fresh form to represent the continued hostilities surrounding the deadliest war in human history—a very old and ongoing conflict that had gone stale in popular consciousness—Mosse toured eastern Congo between 2010-11, armed with two cameras and a supply of Kodachrome film, rendering the characters of this war in vivid hues of lavender, crimson and hot pink. The tension between the hot pink-tinted worlds rendered on film and the devastating subject of the photography is what makes Mosse’s work so compelling. In taking a step away from the standard visual language of photojournalism, Mosse is producing unimaginable images that effectively underscore the truly unimaginable reality of the conflict they capture, a modern conflict too opaque for standard methods of representation.

»Read Richard Mosse’s interview with Liverpool Daily Post on his Infra series and exhibition
»Watch Richard Mosse discuss the stories behind Infra, and preview the Open Eye Gallery installation

Richard Mosse: Infra will be on view March 30 through June 10, 2012

Open Eye Gallery
Liverpool, United Kingdom
+44 (0) 151 236 6768

Also consider Richard Mosse’s first book, Infra: Photographs by Richard Mosse (Aperture 2012), or a limited edition print from the Infra series, “Debris, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, 2011″

Richard Mosse is also featured in Aperture Magazine # 203, “Richard Mosse: Sublime Proximity interview with Aaron Schuman”

Photographer #382: Cédric Gerbehaye

Cédric Gerbehaye, 1977, Belgium, was trained as a journalist who chose photography as his medium to tell his stories. In 2002 he started to follow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a long-term project. He created several bodies of work in the conflict area about Hebron, Gaza and on the economic crisis in Israel, showing that a large number of Israelis today live below the poverty line due to war and the fact that the occupation of Palestinian territories costs a lot of money to the Israeli government who are therefore spending much less on social programs. Since 2007 he has been focused on the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is where he created the images for his book Congo in Limbo, telling the story of the armed conflict that killed nearly four million people. In the eastern regions of Congo, filled with mineral resources, the situation is still very tense. One of his latest series is Land of Cush. He went to the Nuba Mounts, to the north of the demarcation line that now separates the South Sudan state and Sudan. The inhabitants, who used to fight with the southern separatists soldiers for 20 years, are now victims of aerial bombardments from the Khartoum regime as retaliation. The following images come from the stories Land of Cush – South Sudan, Congo in Limbo and Gaza: Summer Rains.

Direct link to Cedric’s work: www.agencevu.com