Aftermath: The Fallout of War
By Claire Fenton
The Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida in Gainesville inaugurated “Aftermath: The Fallout of War: America and the Middle East,” a show that brings together the work of twelve international photographers and artists offering a closer look at armed conflict through images of refugees, loss, historic events, environmental dangers, and veterans from the U.S. and Middle East. The exhibition includes the works of Lynsey Addario, Jananne Al-Ani, Jennifer Karady, Gloriann Liu, Rania Matar, Eman Mohammed, Farah Nosh, Suzanne Opton, Michal Rovner, Stephen Dupont, Ben Lowy, and Simon Norfolk.
Supported by prestigious grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, “Aftermath” includes ninety photographs, two videos and an educational touch table, each depicting the conditions and voices of people and environments caught in war’s wake, from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Israel and America. Together the images in this show urge a reflection on loss, offer a comparison of the past in relation to the present and encourage visitors to ask what the future may hold.
“Aftermath” shows life and loss of many kinds, its lingering physical and emotional effects, and hope-filled survival tactics. In these, we are all susceptible and connected,” says Carol McCusker, Harn Curator of Photography. “Each photographer claims an oblique, moral imperative that cautions viewers against binary thinking (us/them, good/bad), urging instead a wider consciousness and compassion toward the repercussions for all involved.”
“Aftermath” defies us with images that survive in our mind: a young mother with her children trying to continue a normal life at a precarious tent on the border between Turkey and Syria; two women walking down the Martyr’s Square in Tripoli, seen through a window pierced by bullets at an administrative building from Gaddafi’s era; goats grazing among the ruins of an apartment building shattered by bombs in Kabul, Afghanistan; a little girl who tries to continue with her innocent games in a destroyed neighborhood in Beirut; the eyes of a war veteran who poses with pain at the camera while holding a dusty bouquet of artificial flowers. The scenes gathered together in this exhibition remind us that despite the death, suffering and destruction, life continues.
“Aftermath: The Fallout of War: America and the Middle East” will be on view through December 31, 2016. After its presentation in Gainesville, the show will travel to the Gund Gallery at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio from January to April 2017; and The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, affiliated with Florida State University, from September 2017 to January 2018.
The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art is located at 3259 Hull Road, Gainesville, FL, 32611 / www.harn.ufl.edu.
Claire Fenton is an arts writer based in Jacksonville, Fla.