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HomeContentsThemes > Iraq War (2003-2011)


260.01   Justification for the Iraq War (2003-2011)
260.02   Iraq War (2003-2011): Abu Ghraib
260.03   William Laven: War Models
260.04   Ellen Susan: Soldier Portraits
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. 
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260.01   War >  Justification for the Iraq War (2003-2011) 
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On 5 February 2003 US Secretary of State Colin Powell gave a speech at the United Nations[1] where photographic evidence of dubious quality was presented to justify the Iraq War (2003-2011). The evidence purported to show preparations for biological and chemical warfare plants and storage sites. No evidence in subsequent investigations supported these claims. 
260.02   War >  Iraq War (2003-2011): Abu Ghraib 
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During the Iraq War (2003-2011) photographs came to light that showed war prisoners being tortured by American forces.[2] The photograph of a hooded prisoner standing on a box with his arms outstretched has become an iconic image of torture - the symbolism of a prisoner in a cructification-style pose was not lost on the Islamic and the Christian world. 
260.03   War >  William Laven: War Models 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 21 slides to load.) 
William Laven took a novel approach to the Iraq War (2003-2011) with his series War Models. This was not the world of embedded photojournalism accompanying marines as they thought through the deserts of Iraq on a quest for non-existant chemical weapons. It was a seemingly detached of viewing the aircraft used as toys. As William Laven said in 2006:
War Models is a series of photographs of unassembled model airplane kits of aircraft flown in the Iraq War.
Forty aircraft types have been flown in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This includes 30 types of airplanes -- fighters, troop transporters, aerial tankers, and reconnaissance planes -- eight types of helicopters and two kinds of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), one armed with missiles, the other with cameras.
Of the forty aircraft flown, model kits are made of twenty-one. The prints are scaled in proportion to the actual aircraft; each image is 1/50 the size of the actual aircraft. The AV-8 Harrier, for example, is small enough that two could squeeze into the typical San Francisco house lot, while two B-52 Stratofortress bombers would overcrowd a football field. The AV-8 weighs 14,000 pounds; the B-52 carries five times that weight in bombs alone. These images of children’s toys touch on the American fascination with symbols of power and acknowledge the complex relationship to the destructive power of the actual aircraft. [3]
The parts of models of airplanes are shown thus removing us one step from the planes themselves. Here we are in the domain of boys and the men who retain the hobbies of childhood and a fascination with minute details. The accuracy of the models is an important part of this and satisfaction resides in the skill to craft as accurate a model as possible. But the model is not just a model it is a representation of an oject and the function of the object is reconnaisance, air support, bombing and the destruction of people, buildings and targets. The destructive force of these planes is impressive and a part of "shock and awe". Photographs take us one step further away from the destruction the planes create and encourage us to question the nature of power in a time of conflict. 
260.04   War >  Ellen Susan: Soldier Portraits 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 36 slides to load.) 
The wet collodion process was the primary photographic method from the 1850s through the 1880s, encompassing the dates of the American Civil War. The men and women photographed for the Soldier Portraits project are members of the U.S. Army based in Southeast Georgia. Most have deployed to Iraq one to three times since 2003. Many are in Iraq now.
The necessarily long exposures of this process often result in an intensity of gaze, and the grainless, highly detailed surface brings out minute details of each individual. These attributes, combined with the historical military associations made me feel that the process could be a meaningful way to photograph contemporary soldiers to provide a counterpoint to the anonymous representations seen in newspapers and on television. I wanted to produce physically enduring, visually arresting images of people who are being sent repeatedly into a war zone.
Ellen Susan (2008) 
   Ellen  Susan 
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  1. Λ Colin Powell's speech to the UN - "US secretary of state's address to the United Nations security council" which was used as a justification for the Iraq War was published in The Guardian (UK) 5 February 2003:
    [Part 1]
    [Part 2],2763,889550,00.html
    [Part 3],2763,889547,00.html
  2. Λ The literature on the tortures at Abu Ghraib is vast and it is well-researched with accounts of what led up to the specific events and the aftermath - Mark Danner, 2004, Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror (New York Review Books); Stephen F. Eisenman, 2007, The Abu Ghraib Effect, (University of Chicago Press)
    The documentary Standard Operating Procedure directed by Errol Morris (Participant Productions, 2008) covers what happened at Abu Ghraib. 
  3. Λ Introduction to the online exhibition "William Laven: War Models" on Luminous-lInt. Text provided by William Laven, November 2006.


HomeContents > Further research

General reading 
Eisenman, Stephen F., 2010, The Abu Ghraib Effect, (Reaktion Books) isbn-10: 1861896468 isbn-13: 978-1861896469 [Δ
Kamber, Michael, 2013, Photojournalists on War: The Untold Stories from Iraq, (University of Texas Press) isbn-10: 0292744080 isbn-13: 978-0292744080 [Introduction by Dexter Filkins] [Δ
Kamber, Michael, 2013, Photojournalists on War: The Untold Stories from Iraq, (University of Texas Press) isbn-13: 978-0292744080 [Foreword by Dexter Filkins] [Δ
Lowy, Benjamin, 2011, Iraq: Perspectives, (Duke, NC: Duke University Press) isbn-13: 978-0822351665 [Δ
Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
Ashley Gilbertson 
Gilberston, Ashley & Filkins, Dexter (introduction), 2007, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: A Photographer's Chronicle of the Iraq War, (University Of Chicago Press) isbn-10: 0226293254 isbn-13: 978-0226293257 [Δ
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - 
Camera / Iraq 
Camera/Iraq is a project by Carleton College's Cinema & Media Studies Department to gather news and commentary about public and personal photographic image practices associated with the War of Images in the Middle East. 
Soldier Portraits 
A photographic study of soldiers in the United States Army by Ellen Susan. The photographs are made using the 150 year old collodion wet plate process. 

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

Luc Delahaye  (1962-) • Ashley Gilbertson  (1978-) • Sean Hemmerle  (1966-) • Chris Hondros  (1970-2011) • James Nachtwey  (1948-) • Alan Pogue • Ellen Susan
HomeThemesWar > Iraq War (2003-2011) 
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HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Iraq War (2003-2011)

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Alan -

ThumbnailEllen Susan: Soldier Portraits 
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Released (August 6, 2008)
ThumbnailWilliam Laven: War Models 
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Released (November 16, 2006)

HomeVisual indexes > Iraq War (2003-2011)

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Alan -

   Thematic Connections 
ThumbnailAbu Ghraib 
ThumbnailWar: Iraq War (2003-2011): Books 
ThumbnailWar: Iraq War (2003-2011): Justification 
Refreshed: 16 January 2015, 06:47
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