FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WITNESS: CASUALTIES OF WAR
September 11 – October 25, 2008
Opening Reception:  Thursday, September 11, 7 - 9pm



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Suzanne Opton, “Soldier : Mickelson”.

The Stephen Cohen Gallery is pleased to announce Witness: Casualties of War – photographs relating to the ongoing Iraqi War, by Suzanne Opton, Carolyn Cole, Nina Berman, Farah Nosh, with Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's searing images of his native Baghdad in ruins in the viewing room.

As the economy in this country worsens and the war grinds on and on, we become inured to the horror taking place in a country far from our comfortable lives - horror for not only those whose lives are destroyed, but horror for those who are sent to oversee this destruction.

"I wanted to look into the face of someone who had seen something unforgettable." Suzanne Opton's color headshots of soldiers who have served in active duty, beg the question "What happens to people who have seen terrible things that change them forever? Can you see it in their faces?" The subject's unconventional supine pose references Man Ray’s Noir et Blanche and Brancusi's The Sleeping Muse, and are balanced by portraits of Iraqi refugees now living in Jordan, whose worlds have been turned upside down. These images are uncomfortably intimate distillations of the essential humanity of the sitter. Opton has published both bodies of work Soldier and Citizen (Blurb).

Carolyn Cole has tirelessly covered wars and hot spots around the world for the Los Angeles Times since 1994. In 2004, she won a Pulitzer Prize, the NPPA Newspaper Photographer of the Year, and the Pictures of the Year International Photographer Award (by the University of Minnesota), making her the only photographer ever to win the 3 most prestigious photojournalism awards in the same year. She is one of the most well-respected photojournalists in the world, her bravery, commitment, and intelligence are evidenced in her work. Cole was one of the very few embedded reporters at the beginning of the Iraqi war, she documented the youth, fervor, and bravery of US troops under fire in the “shock and awe” period. But of Iraq, she says she doesn’t feel safe there, and has not returned since 2004. Her work is published in the book Four Stories: Photographs by Carolyn Cole (Blurb).

The extraordinary and frightening portrait of a maimed and featureless Marine survivor at his wedding to his high school sweetheart in a small town in the American Midwest, is one of the most iconic images to come from this war. It refers to those omnipresent professional "special occasion" studio portraits taken to commemorate life-affirming events - birth, growth, marriage... but something here is very wrong. This image accompanies 4 equally disturbing portraits of decorated and forgotten returnees by Nina Berman, from her series Purple Hearts: Back from Iraq (Trolley Books).

Farah Nosh is an Iraqi Canadian photojournalist who has documented life under siege in Iraq from 2002 to 2004. Life for the Iraqi people has been irrevocably compromised. More than 2 million have escaped the country and many more would leave if given the means to do so. Determined to depict the consequences to those who bear the burden of war, Nosh found that being a woman often allowed her surprising access to photograph Iraqi survivors in their homes. Her images of Iraqi amputees provides a counterpoint to those of Nina Berman.

Viewing Room:
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad- City of War
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad studied architecture at Baghdad University, deserted from Saddam Husseins army and lived underground to avoid arrest before turning to documenting the US invasion of his country. He has fearlessly photographed in Baghdad, Fallouja and Najaf during active bombing, capturing his country's struggle to survive. His writing and photos are published by The Guardian, The Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post to name a few. Ghaith won the British Press Awards Photographer of the Year 2008. His work can be seen in the book Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq (Chelsea Green Publishing).

It is difficult for people in the United States to get an accurate count of Iraqi dead and wounded, to understand the impact of the war on the Iraqi people.

We are not finished with the cost of this war, and all are witness to the horror.




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