Documentary and Art Photography Crossover Exhibition

“Bringing the War Back Home” was an exhibition at the Impressions Gallery in Bradford, England aimed to show art that was a crossover between art and documentary. The show was timed to open as American occupation in Iraq ended. The subject of the show made me  skeptical at first, because I feel that the crossover between documentary and art photography is a breeding ground for confusion. However, I was surprised how many of the works I felt were authentic representations of the war, while being documents in a way that felt more organic.

Now when documentary photos of war seem to be so common place that they no longer draw any attention. The more gruesome the less interesting it seems to be, and while this is a sad truth people have become so desensitized to these images. The artworks in this show however are all different mediums, angles, and ideas that stand in a stark contrast the common documentary images. I was particularly interested in the work of Sama Alshaibi and her series “Between Two Rivers”. In this series she uses theater makeup to create wounds on her body, that are representative of the physical and representational wounds that Iraqi women suffered from during the war. Alshaibi describes her motivations for the series by saying, ‘“Between Two Rivers re-empowers the image of Iraqi women, who were subjugated to the ‘selling of the war’. The notion that women in Iraq, who once enjoyed the greatest freedoms of the Arab world, would be liberated by war under the guise of democracy is countered.”’ The different perspectives and responses to the war were actually really interesting and the show itself I thought was a pretty successful crossover of documentary and art photography. Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 2.08.05 PM.png

This image caught me as more documentary.

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 2.08.31 PM.png

But this image I found much more interesting, and shows the contrast between the styles of documentary and art images.

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