August 4, 2003, (near) Tikrit, Iraq
© Geert van Kesteren
Courtesy the artist
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Frank Hurley at Charleston

01.09.08 | Julian Stallabrass

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Due to the different requirements of the various galleries that host Biennial exhibitions, some open and close at different times from the main festival. So the Frank Hurley exhibition of First World War photographs at Charleston has now opened. I did the hang with David Chandler and Ben Burbridge from Photoworks, our partner in this show. It is fascinating to see the prints which show Hurley's artistic decisions in dealing with the negatives, suppressing detail in the shadowed silhou more

Words Without Pictures, Again

06.08.08 | Julian Stallabrass

We have been having quite a lot of difficulty securing loans and rights to use photography of the ‘other side’ in the Vietnam War: the photographs taken by the National Liberation Front and the North Vietnamese Army. This photography is highly distinct from our stereotypical image of the Vietnam War. First, it shows the other side, living, laughing, resting, labouring and fighting, and through those pictures we get a glimpse of how they and their state viewed their struggle. The W more

Resonance FM Free University

05.08.08 | Julian Stallabrass

I have just recorded a half hour talk about the Biennnial for Resonance FM's 'Free University of the Airwaves'. It picks up on some of the themes in 'Words Without Pictures' below. The talk will go out the week of the 18th August, probably more than once. Details of the Free University here: more

Words Without Pictures

04.08.08 | Julian Stallabrass

I have been reading two books with lots of material about photographic images but no pictures. One, by Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris, Standard Operating Procedure: A War Story, constructs the events at Abu Ghraib through interviews with the prison guards and other US Army personnel (Morris has produced a film of the same name using the same material). The authors do not reproduce the notorious photographs because they argue that the pictures in and of themselves are misleading, and what more

Blind Sight

14.07.08 | Julian Stallabrass

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Sean Smith, Iraqi Prisoners The strange power of this photograph is that it appears to be something out of a fairytale, in which the bound and blindfolded men are stuck to the Golden Goose that leads them. The drama of the light and the clouds beyond reinforce the sinister but also slightly comic effect. It may also appear as an image of victory, of the single hi-tech soldier over his numerous but primitive opponents, their archaic character suggested by their long robes, the strength more

Holiday Snaps

26.06.08 | Julian Stallabrass

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I have been working through the 300-odd publicly available images from Abu Ghraib to make a selection for the University of Brighton Gallery exhibition, Iraq Through the Lens of Vietnam. It is far from being a usual curatorial task. How to select among the various horrors exhibited? Should one stress the repetitious nature of this photographic trophy taking, or give full scope to its variety? How should such images be displayed? Should they be differentiated from the examples of photojournali more

Smiles and Salutes

21.05.08 | Julian Stallabrass

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This is a photograph taken by a US military photographer. It is a typical example of one of the most durable genres of such photography: soldiers getting on well with children in an occupied country. Many such pictures were taken by US Army photographers in Vietnam, and skewed and subversive versions were made by Philip Jones Griffiths, who took photographs of soldiers offering children cigarettes and pornography. Here in a sunny Iraq, it is a scene of smiles and curiosity, though the more