Arts, Culture & Media

How art reflects war

In 2003, this photographer started taking pictures of severely wounded soldiers from Iraq. At her home recently she said the work came out of a desperation to make the war more real. Her work lead her to small town newspapers covering their local boys gone to war. The photographer then went and sought out these soldiers and featured them in a book. One soldier pictured is this man, who was 19 years old when hit by an explosion and shrapnel hit his face. You don't see those wounds in the photo, the photo is murky, like a watercolor painting. The photographer took the photo of the soldier through a window. The photo is shrouded in melancholy. The photographer says it's not possible to represent the war exactly for those back home, but you can present evidence of what it entails. She didn't think the news media was doing a good part of bringing the war home. This professor in Philadelphia says you can't ever fully understand what war is like unless you've been in one, and that really is the reason why art is important in making something more understandable about war. This man and artist wants people to think about why the US is at war; he asks people what freedom means to them. His art is now showing in New York. He builds a platform out of wood which clearly resembles the American flag. You stand on top of the platform and through a speaker you listen to people from the 50 states giving their definitions of freedom. He isn't encouraging you to think one way or another about freedom or the Iraq War, but some artists are compelling you to feel one way. This playwright and others gathered in New York recently to present excerpts from new plays about the war in Iraq. After the show the audience and playwrights joined in a discussion. This visual artist talks about the surge and how it's changed Iraq substantially and the more complicated moral issues presented. The Philadelphia professor from earlier talks about art's mandate to deal with the non-simple issues of war, and art stepping into an event before it's finished, as it's evolving. So art can't be expected to say precisely what a war means but it can help make sense of it. This artist talks about how just taking one side in art�that war is bad�doesn't really cut it. In different ways, many artists are helping to give a clearer sense of the war in Iraq, and trying to relate images and experiences of war to things many people at home can relate to.

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