Conducted in close collaboration with James Nachtwey and Roberto Koch, this exhibition is the largest ever retrospective dedicated to the work of the photographer. Through his look, it proposes a remarkable reflection on the theme of war, the scope of which is necessarily collective.
Ten-seven different sections constitute the route of exposure, forming a set of nearly two hundred photographs. They offer a broad panorama of the reports the most significant James Nachtwey: El Salvador, the Palestinian Territories, Indonesia, Japan, Romania, Somalia, the Sudan, Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nepal, the United States with among others a singular testimony of the attacks of 11 September, as well as of many other countries. The exhibition ends on a news story dealing with immigration in Europe, today more than ever a topical.
It brings together as well the photographs of the one that can be considered as the photojournalist the most prolific of these last decades, an observer exceptional of our contemporary world and probably one of its witnesses the most perceptive.
James Nachtwey, whose career is marked by numerous prizes and awards in a variety of areas, is globally recognized as the heir of Robert Capa. Its moral force and its social commitments and civilians were led to devote his entire life to the Photograph. Sudan, Darfur, 2003 © James Nachtwey Archive, the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth
It captures the most extreme conditions of human life – which do not take that too often the forms of hell on earth – thus the witness epic in the cruelty of the war. It has continuously been to photograph the pain, injustice, violence, and death. But for that it never is forgotten the suffering and loneliness human, it creates images of a dizzying beauty, spotlessly framed and informed, and to the effects quasi-film. The extraordinary beauty and infinite tenderness which emanate from are all means to fight and resist.
In a posture always compassion, it captures scenes and contexts: in Bosnia, in Mostar where a sniper aims through a window, famine in Darfur, the sick of tuberculosis or even the terrible effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Among its images the most emblematic, we think immediately to which represents a young boy of Rwanda, a survivor of a concentration camp Hutu, the face Scarface. Also Come in mind the photographs of the second intifada in the West Bank, where Nachtwey was then in the first line. It depicts the war since 40 years, showing without detour the fate of the populations that are the terrible experience. As of September 11, 2001, when the war reached “at home,” on American soil, during the attack on the twin towers, followed by the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The images of James Nachtwey reveal humanity mutilated by the violence, devastated by disease and hunger, a tolerance which, by nature, seems to go astray.
“I wanted to become a photographer to enter the war. But I was pushed by the natural feeling that an image that would expose without detour the true face of a conflict would be, by definition, a photograph anti-war”.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mostar, 1993 © James Nachtwey Archive, the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth
JAMES NACHTWEY The duty of memory
“The memory is an essential thing that we have to imagine the future and prevent the errors of the past. Through his photographs and his words, James Nachtwey reminds us that if we are unable to the remembrance of the past, we will be condemned to perpetual its repetition.
For nearly forty years, James Nachtwey photograph the pain, injustice, violence, and death. This death if particular which knows neither the fullness of old age or the heat of the loved ones, but who has the eyes of a child, the emaciated hands of a woman or a man’s face that poverty has ravaged. What the fact Hold, costs that, within this “grieving community” that form our human condition. In this maelstrom of “eternal pain,” it is this belief infallible that the photojournalism, in what he has led, can still influence public opinion, as the first milestones in a history book that would remain to write.
Born in Syracuse in the State of New York in 1948, James Nachtwey grew up in the 1960s. Its eyes are a flood of images of the Vietnam War and marches for the civil rights. Quickly, he feels how vital it is to testify and, through its work, it, therefore, commits to combat the hypocrisy, which if we often, in fact, divert our gaze, as much as our conscience. The reportage in Romania, which follows the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR, marks a point of no return. The doors are starting to open. As those of a hell on earth, an orphanage where a dramatic crime against humanity had to be committed. The painful reality the spoiled up to the marrow: “I wanted to flee, I did not want to watch later. But it had become a test. Had to do I steal or well assume full responsibility to be there, with my photographic camera?”.
These glances panicked, seized in a massive plan, occur as infernal circles. For example, the famine in Somalia, “where the deprivation of food is used as a weapon of mass destruction and, where, since the middle of the year 1992, epidemics and hunger have caused the death of more than 200 000 people”. Sudan also, devastated by war and famine, as well as the Bosnia in 1993, Rwanda in 1994, Zaire or even the Chechnya. The objective of James Nachtwey also aims poverty in India and Indonesia, the scourge of AIDS, the drug or tuberculosis, but also the acts of love of the relatives who remain at the bedside of patients.
Then comes September 11, 2001. The war, which had not affected the more prosperous part of the globe since sixty years, returns to the West. This history to mark a new turning point. Nachtwey documents the wars that ensue in Afghanistan, Iraq, and that recall the errors of the past bitterly. His compassion inspired him an unfailing sense of empathy toward those who suffer, populations traumatized by the earthquakes, like in Nepal, in Haiti or Japan, and by the tsunami that struck Indonesia. Then it coexists with the terrible contemporary tragedy of migrants in Europe, among us, where hundreds of thousands of people are forced to flee to try to survive in an elsewhere that they imagine a land of hope and the home.
Nachtwey writes: “My photographic work is linked to the human instinct, the one who wins when the rules of the Civilization and the socialization fly in brilliance. At this time, the law of the jungle takes over. Violence and land claims are then needed, spoofing with them their batch of cruelty, terror, and suffering, but also a spirit of ancestral survival. It is a dark mechanism and frightening, and I am trying through my work to make a share of spirituality. Essentially the compassion.”
A COMPASSIONATE GAZE is a look of knowledge, conscience, and memory: the only possible antidote against this obscure scope, this heart of darkness that takes its horrific load by the yardstick of what the whole man is capable. We look at the images of Nachtwey, and we know now: we cannot forget ever again. ” Roberto Koch Co-Commissioner of the exhibition New York, 2001
© James Nachtwey Archive, the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth