Purple Hearts visits Voorhesville High School

I’m pleased to announce that the Purple Hearts exhibition will be on display at the Clayton A. Bouton High School in Voorheesville, New York from March 1 through March 18, 2011. Not many would be so proud to publicize a high school exhibition — hardly glamorous, not likely to bring in collectors, but showing Purple Hearts to young audiences has been one of my most rewarding experiences as a photographer. I started presenting and exhibiting in high schools in 2004, first visiting high schools in New York and New Jersey, and then with a grant, traveling with Robert Acosta, one of the subjects of Purple Hearts, to high schools across the country. In many of the classes we visited, students had family members serving in the armed forces, or they themselves were being recruited. Last year, in conjunction with the Whitney Museum of American Art 2010 Biennial, I served as an artist in residence, working with New York City high school students at the museum to create works that focused on their interpretation of war. Teenagers make for a really exciting and committed audience and I encourage any artist/photographer/journalist to seek them out. I would be interested in hearing comments from other photographers who would like to share their experiences working with high school students.

Censorship and war reporting – Mike Kamber and Bag News Notes

“I think that there has to be an accurate, visual record of the war, and I think it’s going to be a much bloodier, a much harder visual record than the one we’ve been seeing.” So begins photographer Mike Kamber’s piece on military censorship in Iraq.

The piece was produced for BagNewsNotes and recently won Pictures of the Year prize. A contract photographer for the New York Times, Kamber has covered Iraq since 2003. Ironically, or predictably, the U.S. military working hand in hand with the Iraqi government officially and effectively limited coverage of so many different categories of events that by the time Kamber made this piece with producer Sandra Roa in 2010, nearly every action except the most mundane was off limits. “At first the car bombs were off limits. And then we couldn’t photograph hospitals and then the morgues were off limits. And then we couldn’t photograph prisoners and then we couldn’t photograph wounded soldiers.” The result, a war scrubbed clean to fit a narrative that demanded a happy ending. One of the most cynical bits recounted in the Kamber piece comes at .53 seconds when he describes the military policy forbidding the photographing of detainees: Tie people up, bag them, march them out of their homes, but photograph them, well that would be a violation of their rights.