The journal of the Center for Documentary Arts, a nonprofit initiative to bear witness to suffering and promote the common good through the arts. At the crossroads of art, ethics, faith, and social justice, the Center brings together makers and thinkers whose work advances beauty, compassion, collaboration, dignity, and mercy.

Battlesight Exhibition

“It's as though the International Center of Photography opened a branch in Troy. The exhibition Battlesight: Dispatches from Iraq and Afghanistan by International Photographers is that good, and that important.”—David Brickman

Battlesight: Dispatches from Iraq and Afghanistan by International Photographers  is an exhibition of photographs from the central fronts of what was formerly called the "War on Terror," the wars lead by the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq, and touching Pakistan, Iran and the whole Middle East/Southern Asia region. These are wars that, despite their long duration (the first troops were sent to Afghanistan in 2001, shortly after 9/11), the American public knows relatively little about, and today sees even less of, mostly brief clips on TV and a decreasing number of images in the press. Today, unless you are, have been, or know someone in the military, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (renamed the "Overseas Contingency Operation" by the Obama Administration) are being fought far from American awareness. Battlesight features the work of internationally renowned photojournalists Cheryl Diaz Meyer, Balazs Gardi, and Teru Kuwayama. Sometimes embedded with US or Coalition forces, sometimes working independently, these photographers have risked their safety to bear witness to the realities and consequences of warfare on combatants and civilians. For their work, they have won numerous international awards, including a Pulitzer Prize.

Battlesight was organized by the Center for Documentary Arts at The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York and curated by Timothy Cahill, founding director of the CDA. The exhibition opened on 22 October and ran through 19 December 2010 at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, New York. It was the first public project of the Center, and garnered wide coverage and critical praise from the regional press. A fully illustrated catalog of the exhibit is at the bottom of this page; a chronicle of the exhibit is available in the early posts of this blog.

Battlesight is available for exhibition; please contact the Center at the address above for information.

The installation

Interior looking to street, with photograph
by Balazs Gardi

Arts Center entrance with BATTLESIGHT poster in window

From the gallery book

Battlesight brings together the work of three exceptional photographers.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer shared the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography with David Leeson for “eloquent photographs depicting both the violence and poignancy of the war with Iraq,” made while both were senior staff photographers of The Dallas Morning News. Diaz Meyer covered the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq as an embedded journalist attached to the 2nd Tank Battalion of the 1st Marine Division. After the fall of Baghdad, she continued to cover the aftermath as a unilateral journalist. She returned to Iraq numerous times, to cover the capture of Saddam Hussein and the infamous “spider hole,” the Al Mehdi death squads, the Iranian infiltration into Basra, and the region’s tormented women, who set themselves on fire in an ancient practice of self-immolation. Diaz Meyer’s work in Iraq was also awarded the Visa D’Or Daily Press Award 2003 at Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan, France. She currently works as a freelance photographer.

Balazs Gardi is a Hungarian photographer who documents the everyday life of marginalized peoples and communities facing humanitarian crises. He has photographed the effects of war in Afghanistan and Pakistan both as a unilateral journalist and embedded with troops from the United States, Canada and Britain. His current long-term project, Facing Water Crisis,  examines, as he writes, "the vital yet destructive presence, crippling absence and strategic value of water worldwide." Now working independently, Gardi was staff photographer at Nepszabadsag, Hungary's largest national daily, from 1996 to 2003. He studied journalism and photography in Budapest and at the University of Wales, Cardiff. Among his numerous honors are the Prix Bayeux War Correspondents Award, the PX3 Photographer of the Year Award, three World Press Photo awards, a PDN Photography Prize, and the Global Vision Award from Pictures of the Year International. He is the recipient of grants from the Alexia Foundation for World Peace  and Getty Images.

Teru Kuwayama has published photographs in Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, Outside, Fortune, and Vibe, among other publications. His work on the Tibetan refugee diaspora received awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Alexia Foundation for World Peace, and were exhibited at the United Nations and the Open Society Institute. In 2004, Esquire profiled him as among the “Best and Brightest” of his generation for his reportage on the occupation of Iraq. In 2005, PDN cited his work in Kashmir in a selection of the most iconic images in contemporary photography. In 2006 he received a Nikon Storyteller Award, a Days Japan International Photojournalism Award, and a W. Eugene Smith fellowship for his work on Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. Kuwayama is co-founder of Lightstalkersa professional and social network of photographers, journalists and other "unconventional travelers" in the media, NGOs, military, etc. He recently completed a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University and received a 2010 Knight News Challenge awardHe is currently a 2010 TED Global Fellow and 2010 Ochberg Fellow at Columbia University's DART Center for Journalism and Trauma.

Catalog of the Exhibition

Cheryl Diaz Meyer

As a dust storm rages, Marine Staff Sergeant Chad Weidner cleans his rifle magazines as part of a daily routine to keep equipment clean from the desert dust at the Second Tank Battalion's designated dispersal site in northern Kuwait.  March 19, 2003  (27x40")

Dust Storm
Marine Staff Sergeant Brian Flaherty of New York, Delta Company of the Second Tank Battalion, disconnects a fuel bladder from a tank as a dust storm rages in Southern Iraq.  The move north toward Baghdad was one of the most aggressive tank road marches in Marine history. March 25, 2003 (21x27")

Lt. Jeffrey Goodman and Lance Corporal Jorge Sanchez, left and right, drag a wounded civilian away from his burning vehicle during an advance on Baghdad by the Marines Second Tank Battalion.  The man was accidentally injured when he raced into the midst of an ambush.  The days' fighting left some four Marines dead and another 17 injured.  April 4, 2003 (21x27")

Marine Death
Marines of the Second Tank Battalion evacuate a Marine killed in battle during an advance on Baghdad.  April 4, 2003 (21x27")

Mini Bus
Corpses of children lay in a pool of blood in a minibus at an intersection near Hatif Haiyawi, an area loyal to Saddam Hussein, during the Second Tank Battalion's advance on the outskirts of Baghdad.  Controlling civilian movement left numerous deaths as Marines responded to suicide bombers, soldiers posing as civilians and other ambush tactics.  April 5, 2003 (21x27")

The Rose
U.S. Marine Corporal Richard Cope, 23, of Michigan enjoys the scent of a rose plucked from the gardens of Baghdad College where Fox Company, Second Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, are camped in the north of Baghdad.  After weeks of being in the desert, bountiful and colorful Iraqi gardens greeted the Marines.  April 11, 2003 (29x40")

Collateral Damage
In the garden of Saddam Childrens Parc Nurse Villa hospital in Baghdad rests the Abu Hasen family of ten – hastily buried after they were killed in a U.S. military raid of Uday Saddam's home.  Relatives unearth the corpses to give their deceased a proper Muslim burial.  April 16, 2003 (27x40")

Skull Kiss
At Abu Ghraib Cemetery just outside Baghdad, families from all over Iraq came to unearth the bones of their relatives who were tortured and killed by Saddam Hussein's regime.  Mohammad Bakar Whathiq lovingly kisses the skull of his brother Brer Bakar Whathiq.  Brer was arrested in October 1993 for opposing the regime and was never seen again.  April 25, 2003 (27x40")

Sister of Torture
When the Republican Guard called his family to pick him up from prison, Ferasse Jasim, 22, was unconscious and nearly dead.  He had been tortured for several months for evading military service.  He suffered beatings, electric shock and then finally was subjected to boiling water poured on his hands and feet.  He was released with many other prisoners around the city just days before the U.S. began bombing Baghdad.  When his sister Shaima Jasim, 7, saw him, she screamed in horror.  The skin slowly grew back on his feet to cover the bone that once was visible, and he eventually regained his strength.  April 28, 2003 (27x40")

Balazs Gardi

U.S. Army soldier stands on the ridge of the Abas Ghar during Operation Rock Avalanche, East Afghanistan. October 24, 2007 (26x64")

U.S. soldiers return fire in contact with insurgents during Operation Rock Avalanche, East Afghanistan. Octber 23, 2007 (27x40")

U.S. soldiers carry the body of their fallen comrade after he died as insurgents overran his position during Operation Rock Avalanche. October 23, 2007 (27x40")
Soldiers react in shock after their position was overrun by insurgents during Operation Rock Avalanche. October 23, 2007 (27x40")
U.S. soldier collapses in exhaustion during Operation Rock Avalanche, October 25, 2007. The photo was taken the night the soldier broke his ankle and heroically walked down the Korengal Valley for evacuation. Gardi and an Afghan interpreter carried his equipment for him (27x40")
Afghan villagers stand at a distance from each other as U.S. soldiers search their village in Korengal Valley. October 15, 2007 (26x64")

An Afghan man holds a wounded boy in front of a house in Yaka China village, Kunar Province, East Afghanistan, October 20, 2007. The boy received several shrapnel wounds from a rocket as a U.S. air strike targeted a suspected insurgent position in a nearby house the previous night. The air strike killed five other civilians and injured at least seven villagers including children (27x40")
Wounded women and children in Yaka China village, Kunar Province, East Afghanistan, October 20, 2007. They received shrapnel wounds from a rocket as a U.S. air strike targeted a suspected insurgent position in a nearby house the previous night. The air strike killed five other civilians and injured at least seven villagers including children (27x40")
Afghan villagers stand in front of their houses as U.S. Army soldiers with Afghan National Army Soldiers search their village during Operation Rock Avalanche, East Afghanistan. October 25, 2007 (27x40")

Teru Kuwayama

The ruins of Kabul. Following the retreat of the Soviet Army, internecine fighting between rival mujahideen faction leveled the city and displaced millions. 2002  (26x64")
Sections of concrete blast walls, Bagram, Afghanistan 2006 (25x25")
A child's drawing of a Soviet tank adorns the wall of an IDP camp in Kabul, Afghanistan 2002, (21x27")
An ethnic Kyrgyz horseman, carrying an Afghan flag, patrols the Afghan border with Tajikistan. Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan 2005 (25x25")
Badakshan, Afghanistan 2005 (25x25")
Children scavenge for firewood. Kabul, Afghanistan 2007 (25x25")
Canadian and Afghan National Army soldiers run for cover as Taliban fighters open fire on their position. Kandahar, Afghanistan 2007 (26x64")
Children run through a sandstorm, Kabul, Afghanistan 2002 (21x27")
The Blue Mosque, Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan 2007 (21x27")
The Wakhan corridor, northeastern Afghanistan 2005 (21x27")
The Siachen Glacier, Kashmir. 2002 (21x27")
Earthquake survivors carry relief supplies away from a Pakistani military aid station. Azad Kashmir, 2005 (25x25")
Children in a camp for survivors of a massive earthquake that killed 80,000 and displaced 3.5 million survivors in Pakistan administered Kashmir. Muzzafarabad, Azad Kashmir, 2005 (25x25")

Something beyond the void

In his book  Pictures and Tears , James Elkins describes the charged silence that fills the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas. The space ...