A publication of the Center for Documentary Arts, an independent, nonprofit initiative to integrate art, culture, and humanitarian awareness. The Center promotes narrative and lyric forms of photography, film, oral history, radio, theatre, paintings, poetry, etc. that address social themes and bear witness to the human condition. A full description can be found on the About page. Curated by Timothy Cahill.

22 October 2010

Press: The Troy Record

The Troy Record, October 21, 2010


Art Center explores wars’ savage beauty


By Phil Drew
The Record
A man clutches a wounded child; both are grimy, peering out of darkness in the black and white photo. The man’s gaze is not toward the combat photographer who has snapped the image — embedded with U.S. troops fighting in the mountains and villages of eastern Afghanistan — but somewhere upward; toward an unseen soldier towering behind the cameraman, perhaps? Toward a bystander? Toward heaven?

Despite obviously severe wounds, the child appears calm, if grim, gaze directed the way as his protector’s. Are they imploring, accusing? Or simply presenting themselves to their unseen interlocutor, heavenly or worldly, proclaiming, ‘here I am,’ ‘deal with me?’ Crouching next to them, an older man touches the child; a doctor giving treatment? A village elder? A mullah? The youngster’s grandfather?

 There is something almost spiritual in the pose of man and child, reminiscent of the ‘Pieta’ yet shockingly contemporary. And the man laying on hands? "Something almost, dare I say it, rabbinical about that," says Timothy Cahill, showing off the image by photojournalist Balasz Gardi – one of three independent photographers whose work is on display through Dec. 19 in the main gallery of downtown Troy’s Arts Center of the Capital Region.

 "These pictures bring us to empathy," says Cahill. "It’s impossible to look at these photographs, to really look at them, and not, after going around the room, to feel connected with these other human beings."

Gardi’s work, along with that of Cheryl Diaz Meyer and Teru Kuwayama, makes up "Battlesight: Dispatches from Iraq and Afghanistan by International Photographers" – sponsored by the year-old Center for Documentary Arts at The Sage Colleges.

The images, curated by Cahill, the center’s founding director, are artful, beautiful photography, worthy of a gallery; but they are also reportage, unblinking, close-up, of the effects of war, psychological and physical and visceral. Their combined effect is not polemical and argumentative but a jolt of reality: "it strips us of abstraction," says Cahill.

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