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Winchester School of Art

WSA To Host International Photographic Exhibition

Published: 23 October 2013

Winchester School of Art is to host an international photographic exhibition that challenges the conventions of traditional war photography.

The exhibition, entitled Bringing the War Home, opens at the Winchester Gallery next week and will draw together powerful photographic responses to recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rejecting the idea that war photography only depicts dramatic moments of frontline combat captured by photojournalists, the artists offer new approaches and techniques including the viewpoints of non-combatant women, Iraqis and Afghans, and civilians; amateur and non-official imagery such as soldiers’ digital photos and graffiti; and images reflecting the far-reaching effects of war away from the battle zone.

Bringing the War Home is a touring exhibition from the Impressions Gallery, Bradford, curated by Pippa Oldfield, features the work of artists from the United States, UK, South Africa, Iran, Iraq and Palestine.

Kay May, Senior Teaching Fellow at Winchester School of Art and contributor to the exhibition, brings together her own photographs and diary entries made in England; texts from official Ministry of Defence newsletters and other news reports, and amateur digital photographs made at her request by her son, Freddy, during his seven months deployed in Afghanistan. She offers an honest and intimate insight into the emotional effects of participation in war, for both those in the battle zone and those remaining at home.

“Even if you remain at home, to some degree you are a combatant”, observes May, noting that “you feel involved in and distressed by the conflict and my work shows the contrast between life at home and on the battlefield.”

May’s work in the exhibition is joined by contributions from world-renowned artists including:

Peter van Agtmael (USA) who records the darkly comic graffiti made by and for US soldiers in the toilets of an army airstrip in Kuwait, one of the transit points for Iraq.

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin (South Africa and UK respectively), embedded with British troops in Afghanistan, reject the camera in favour of exposing photographic paper to the sun, creating abstract images that deny representation.

Sama Alshaibi (Iraq / Palestine) uses her own body to enact the wounds and scarring suffered by citizens of her homeland.

Farhad Ahrarnia (UK / Iran) digitally manipulates and hand embroiders photographs of young American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lisa Barnard (UK) portrays ‘Blue Star Moms’, mothers with sons or daughters serving in the US military, and their ‘care packages’ - donations of mundane consumer products sent to troops.

Edmund Clark (UK) reveals the censored correspondence sent to former Guantanamo detainee and UK resident Omar Deghayes, which includes incongruous postcards featuring the Yorkshire Dales.

Asef Ali Mohammad (Afghanistan) photographs and interviews Kabul residents from all walks of life, offering complex and contradictory responses to American occupation.

Christopher Sims (USA) depicts the surreal world of elaborate fake Iraqi and Afghan villages built by the US military in America’s deep South to serve as training grounds for soldiers prior to deployment

“This exhibition really challenges the concepts of traditional war photography and provides a more intimate and realistic view of conflict through a range of media, voices and viewpoints,” adds Kay May.

The exhibition is open to the public at The Winchester Gallery, Winchester School of Art, Park Avenue, Winchester, from Wednesday, 23 October to Friday 22 November. The exhibition is open from Monday to Friday 10-12pm and 1-4pm, Saturday 26 October and 2 November 11am-3pm. Entry to the exhibition is free.

For further information please contact August Jordan Davis, Senior Research Fellow, A.J.Davis@soton.ac.uk, 02380 596932 or Kay May, Senior Teaching Fellow, km@soton.ac.uk, 02380 596906

 

Image: Habiba, Newscaster from the series Stories from Kabul © Asef Ali Mohammed

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