Art Center explores wars’ savage beauty
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.