November – December 2019 Events – News

Acknowledgment Of Danger
Passaic River, New Jersey. Photo Nina Berman, 2016 From the series “Acknowledgment of Danger”

 

EVENTS

Bronx Documentary Center
Panel Discussion: Conversations on Conflict Photography with Dr. Lauren Walsh
December 7, 2019 @ 6pm

 

EXHIBITIONS

University of Michigan
Whose Streets, Our Streets?
Women’s Studies Department
Institute for Research on Women and Gender
Exhibition closes December 13
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Susquehanna Art Museum
Aftermath:  War is Only Half the Story . (Series: Acknowledgment of Danger)
October 12, 2019 – January 19, 2020
Harrisburg, PA

 

BOOKS

My work appears in the following recently published books:

A World History of Photography,  5th Edition
By Naomi Rosenblum
Abbeville Press, 2019

Conversations On Conflict Photography
By Lauren Walsh
Bloomsbury, 2019

Documentary Photography Reconsidered
History, Theory and Practice
By Michelle Bogre
Bloomsbury, 2019

 

 

Extended Photo Caption:

The Joseph Carmine de Jessa Memorial Bridge over the Passaic River connects the towns of Lyndhurst and Nutley, New Jersey. The bridge is named after a 19 year old US Marine who died from a mortar attack while deployed as a rifleman in Quang Tri, Vietnam, 1967. The bridge spans a part of the river contaminated with dioxin from Vietnam War era Agent Orange production. During the 1960’s the Diamond Alkali Co. plant in Newark, NJ, produced Agent Orange for the US military and then dumped the surplus into the Passaic River where it settled into the riverbed stretching from Newark to Lyndhurst. The dioxin contaminated the fish and contributes to the River’s designation as a superfund site. Clean up of the dioxin and other pollutants are estimated at well over $1 billion. The bridge is in a state of disrepair and slated for eventual replacement.

2016 Aftermath Project Grant

The Aftermath Project has awarded me the 2016 grant to produce a new body of work  Acknowledgment of Danger which will investigate the environmental legacy of the American military and the war economy on the American landscape.

I’ve been researching the subject for years and now thanks to Sara Terry , the Aftermath Project founder and to the 2016 judges,  I can begin.

From my proposal:

Vietnam, 1987, was the first time I saw the effects of war; conjoined twins were lying on a bed, their bodies connected at the waist. In utero, they had absorbed dioxin, also called “agent orange”. In the photograph I made that day, one child holds a nurse’s hand, the other fingers a cash bill offered in meek apology by a visiting U.S. war veteran.

The twins lived the pain of war even though they hadn’t yet been born when the US introduced environmental destruction as a war tactic. Defoliate the landscape, and the enemy would have no place to hide. It was a chemical version of the old “smoke ’em out” strategy.

War is the dirtiest business in the world and the United States is the planet’s most prolific and chronic polluter.

Decades and generations after armed conflict ends, civilian populations live amid war’s residue. Rarely is the American military held accountable. It dumps, it discharges and returns home, leaving someone else -­‐ from the Philippines to Iraq, from Vieques to Okinawa-­‐ to clean up the mess.

The situation within the United States is much the same. We live in a constant state of war’s aftermath with vast stretches of the American landscape contaminated by the business of war and armed aggression: unexploded ordnance, toxic chemicals, depleted uranium, radioactive particles, a filthy legacy stretching from World War II to contemporary wars of democracy.

Scratch a cancer cluster or dive into a superfund site and the likelihood is that the US military played a role. Some of the history is known -­‐ the down winders in the atomic west for example -­‐ but a great deal more is obscured, covered up, artfully redefined, with the lasting impacts of environmental pollution rarely connected to armed conflict and the American war economy.

With the Aftermath grant, I will document the toxic legacy of war on the American landscape.

I’ll be posting pictures along the way, beginning in New Jersey and the Passaic River, which is contaminated with dioxin as a result of agent orange production for the Vietnam War.