Battlespace: Unrealities of War

Opening today at Great Western Studios in London is Battlespace, an exhibition of photographs that aims to present an ‘unsantised view’ of the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. As such, some of the images in this post may be distressing.

American soliders carry away a comrade, after their position is overrun. Kunar, Afghanistan, 2007. By Balazs Gardi

Opening today at Great Western Studios in London is Battlespace, an exhibition of photographs that aims to present an ‘unsanitised view’ of the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. As such, some of the images in this post may be distressing.

 

American soldiers return fire as their convoy is ambushed, Iraq. By Ashley Gilbertson

Battleplans, Operation Rock Avalanche, Afghanistan, 2007. By Balazs Gardi

The exhibition includes images from 25 photojournalists from around the world, and presents a more complex, and harrowing, image of war than we are usually presented via the media. This is in part the intention of the show, which, according to the press info, “attempts to offer an unfiltered account from a group of photographers who saw it firsthand”.

 

Firebase Vegas. Korenghal Valley, Afghanistan, 2007. By Balazs Gardi

US forces mark Iraqis with serial numbers to track movement of population in and out of a village. Iraq, 2007. By Yuri Kozyrev

The photographers stress that they are not attempting to provide a comprehensive account of war, or of Iraq or Afghanistan, but instead address the illusions that are presented about warfare by the media. “The battlespace is not solely defined by map lines or grid squares, but also in the areas of perception and illusion,” the catalogue text states. “In this shifting, human terrain, there are no facts or truths, only competing agendas. Messages are shaped and transmitted, from bunkered press officers in Baghdad and Bagram to journalists who report from behind blastwalls and cubicle partitions. Unpleasant, complex, or off-message images are filtered by both sides, and war stories are recycled through the echo chamber.”

 

Battleplans, Operation Rock Avalanche. Afghanistan, 2007. By Balazs Gardi

A US soldier killed in the battle of Fallujah. Iraq, 2004. By Stefan Zaklin

“The images do not provide a comprehensive account of these wars, or an understanding of these nations or their peoples,” the text continues. “They are fragments, seen in off-moments behind the walls of concrete superbases – or outside them, through nightvision goggles and ballistic eye shields.”

 

House raid. Balad, Iraq, 2003. By Rita Leistner

Survivor of a US airstrike. Kunar, Afghanistan, 2007. By Balazs Gardi

The exhibition at Great Western Studios will run until November 30. There will be a programme of talks, film, poetry and Q&A events accompanying it, for more info on these and the exhibition generally, visit watch-this-space.org.

 

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