Art Criticism

On Art Writing, Or: Writing Refuse I

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I’m going to post the unedited refuse of things I’ve published elsewhere. This project starts now; it won’t be backdated. Here’s the first of that:

that the “prison swap” prisoner of conscience Private Berghdahl’s most difficult test will be to become what he was to all those he loved and who loved hime before he went off to War, before he became the one single American individual whose story apparently deserve Congressional investigation and hearings. Almost as if Congress were now equity-invested in finding out details of our moral views on our world. (Oh, wait, yes, it’s invested in precisely that. And it hid from us that the government under its charge had set up snoopers to catch out all the secrets we tell ourselves.)

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a photo show that hit square direct its target on the world. That target: the experience   couldn’t pick a more appropriately timed photo show than the one at Fovea, in Beacon. That War & Memory, ia curated show culled together from the Texas-based Home Coming Project pictures the stories you and I might have read about, though I doubt whether many

And, no surprise that, you might have to shirk off a sense of long-distance detachment from those pictures. After all, these are beautiful works by professionals who, for the most part, haven’t experienced the lived trauma of War, whatever their embed status during this tour in Iraq and that in Afghanistan and elsewhere

Yes, as you walk around, you can’t help but feel that there’s something holy, iconic about the photo of Sergeant Davis’ boots kept aright at the threshold of his home. Sergeant Davis was killed in action and his wife Taryn keeps them precisely there everyday-the boots are better than nothing. The pictures of veterans holding their families tight just before flying off to their deployment is devastating as well. But I wonder, whether because you think it’s a human story, or whether because you don’t know if the soldier made it back home.

(And, even as I then you start wishing that the photojournalist Tim Hetherington were still alive; that he hadn’t been killed in action in Libya in 2011 while shooting work that looks very similar to the work on display. I wonder though: do these pictures hit home because they are awfully beautiful, or because we don’t know if the soldier pictured made it back home? Do I, feel a little distant from the professinal-photog images because I know the photographer definitely made it back home?)

even after seeing the show, reading up on the projects on which it’s anchored and after keeping on recent news, I don’t know how to talk about that work, though I have some just-so stories

jarred me out my news-reader-and-long-distance War watcher comfort zone.

Pfc Bowe Bergdahl’s trials in coming home A life of misery, a sense that he’d have to become human again in an appropriately American way, and that the VA hospital systerm was set up precisely to heal soldiers come back home and failing to do so and whether the fault lies with the political Right’s moves or the Left’s, no one can blame another for thinking that part of the American project has failed.

The show is drawn from the work of 11 photojournalists and 11 war veterans. The photogs are all at the top of their game; they call VII, Magnum, the New York Times their work-homes. One is a Pulitzer Prize winner. The veterans whose work ranges across the gallery space and evocatively hangs around the professional work on walls is the real reason you’d do well to visit. For through that work the show gets right that the story of veterans coming home isn’t just a CNN-spun American story

a narrative project interested in spreading the word on the lives of veterans now back home after their Wars and the consequences of all that on their families, “War & Memory” is the work of

I tell you, though, the work by veterans and their families hung evocatively around the professional work on walls is absolutely heart-breaking

now but not the corollary: that. In fact stories about precisely those countries that the U.S. bombed, attacked and severed, Shia or Sunni, are also back in the news. The question is, like, weirdly, Glenn Beck:

to visit. For through that work the show gets right that the story of veterans coming home isn’t just a CNN-spun American story

(Even as I write this, I wish that the photojournalist Tim Hetherington were still alive; that he hadn’t been killed in action in Libya in 2011 while shooting work that looks very similar to the work on display. I wish other photogs like him for Reuters and the BBC weren’t killed by this side or that. I wonder though: do these pictures hit home because they are awfully beautiful, or because we don’t know if the soldier pictured made it back home? Do I feel a little distant from the professional-photog images because I know the photographer definitely made it back home?)

The other day, I stepped inside Fovea Exhibitions a great little photo gallery in Beacon, NY and the exhibition up, War & Memory, kicked me out of my news-reader-and-long-distance War watcher comfort zone.

Glenn Beck, the Far Right’s former hero, recently announced he’s changed his mind on the War in Iraq. “Not one more life…[the war] must end now”, he said. Do we agree? Can we do something more than agree?

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