Photographic War: Images of Occupation


I was recently informed of a brilliant New York Times article featuring a photographer named, Jennifer Karady, focusing on the subject of war. Jennifer Karady’s work, along with the work of Christopher Sims, both dealing with war, can be viewed from May 6th-Aug 7th 2010, at the SF Camerawork. The directions are here.

I brought my wife and son to the exhibit with me. After we had parked our truck in the parking garage on Mirra St., next to the SF Museum of Modern Art, we began our walk to the gallery. The sun was shining bright, and there was the usual general commotion of pedestrian traffic, flowing as rivers along the sidewalks.

Once we got to the building on Mission St., and walked inside, we crammed ourselves into the tiny elevator leading to the gallery. We got there after the gallery had closed, but their was someone at the desk, and she was kind enough to let us in to view the pictures. I haven’t been to an art exhibition like this one before; the way that Karady and Sims both brought forth visual representations of this war, poignant and surreal, made for a great visit.

Karady’s work, “In Country: Soldiers’ Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan” explores the trauma of war and transforms it through her photographs, juxtaposing war imagery with the everyday life of her soldier’s. I commend her for doing something that has been so beneficial for veterans dealing with the trauma of war. It proves to me that these wars have shaped art, and also that art has the power to transform lives affected by war.

I highly recommend this exhibit. Once you see the pictures on the web, you’ll want to see the large-scale prints in the gallery. The prints at the gallery are much larger and the exhibit includes background stories behind the photographs, cataloging the experiences of the soldiers involved in the exhibit. Karady has done a great thing here.

Sims work, “Theater of War: Pretend Villages of Iraq an Afghanistan,” is also visually striking in the way that it shows the imaginative quality of space, how we must all imagine a version of what a place we may have never been to could look like. The “theater of war” is represented in a way that also puts at the forefront the representation of Iraqi and Afghan life, marking the occupation, and the vexed relationship they share.

You really must see this exhibit if you live near the San Francisco area. You won’t be disappointed.

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