“Conflict Zone,” an exhibition of conflict photography opening Friday at the New York City Fire Museum, has gone through several versions. The project was originally conceived in fall 2010 as a fundraiser for Joao Silva, who had just been injured in Afghanistan while on assignment for The New York Times.
When Mr. Silva got a staff position — and health insurance — the show became an effort to raise money instead for the Chris Hondros Fund. Featuring photography from Iraq and Afghanistan, it opened on Memorial Day in Chicago and went on to Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Fort Worth, Tex.
The New York exhibit, which is scaled down and includes multimedia, highlights the work of Chris Hondros, the Getty Images photographer based in New York who was killed in Libya in April 2011. Mr. Hondros had been major supporter of the project from the beginning, and a number of his photos are on display, accompanied by an artist statement for an unrelated exhibition from fall 2010.
“My own professional output this past decade has been dominated these two current wars,” he wrote:
and the time has probably come to at least try and make some sense of what has happened there. It’s not easy to do; for all my dozens of trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, I can’t say that I “understand” them better than anyone else. … These wars, like any, have engendered heroic actions, foolish mistakes, noble sacrifices, base cruelty, and even their share of philosophical dead ends. Perhaps some shadow of these realities can be glimpsed in this collection of pictures.
Mr. Hondros believed in documenting the shared human experience, said his fiancée Christina Piaia, president of the Chris Hondros Fund.
“They’re all moments that wouldn’t necessarily be considered ‘conflict’ or ‘war,’ ” she said, looking at the images as they were about to be installed on Wednesday. “He really looked at the human side of things.”
Mr. Hondros had hoped “Conflict Zone” would rest in a setting that would give viewers time to look at the photos, Ms. Piaia said. To really think about them.
Alongside tense battle scenes and bloody, tearful images, “Conflict Zone” features glimpses of the day-to-day.
“It’s important to bring some humanity to these conflicts that are so far away,” said Holly Pickett, who has three photographs on display. One shows a group of women moving swiftly through a Kandahar market in colorful burqas; another, a group playing soccer in front of a dilapidated building (above and slide 6).
In addition to Ms. Pickett, Mr. Silva and Mr. Hondros, the show includes work by Kathleen Flynn, Greg Marinovich, Jason P. Howe and Andrea Bruce, whose recent work from Afghanistan was published on Lens on Tuesday. It is a collaboration among journalists with very different styles — including military photographers, like Sgt. Joel A. Chaverri, a Marine combat journalist, and Michael Yon, a Green Beret-turned-war correspondent.
Jackie Spinner, the director of “Conflict Zone” and a former Baghdad bureau chief for The Washington Post, said the collectivity made the project unique. “It ends up being a very healing process, when the show brings together photographers to talk about photography,” she said.
“There’s something really powerful about that.”
February 9, 2012