“Eye Level in Iraq: Photographs by Kael Alford and Thorne Anderson” presents the photographs of two American-trained photojournalists, Kael Alford (American, b. 1971) and Thorne Anderson (American, b. 1966), who documented the profound impact and aftermath of the U.S.-led coalition’s into to Iraq in 2003.
Alford and Anderson created this body of work during a two-year span that began in the months leading up to the invasion and continued into the period when armed militias emerged to challenge the coalition forces and later the new central Iraqi government. This exhibition will be on view in Gallery 12 at the de Young Museum in San Francisco through June 16.
In an attempt to get closer to the daily realities of Iraqi citizens, the photographers worked outside the confines of the U.S. military’s embedded journalist program. Though this shift in physical perspective placed them in great danger, they sought to learn how the war and the seismic political and cultural shifts that accompanied it were affecting ordinary people.
Civilians, so often caught in the crossfire of conflict, are the primary subject in the extraordinary photographs of Alford and Anderson. They are approached not from a fixed military perspective, but from a more intimate point of view, one closer to “eye level.”
Baghdad fell to the allied forces on April 9, 2003. A decade later, reflecting on why this work was made, Alford stated: “I consider these photographs invitations to the viewer to learn more, to explore the relationships between public policy objectives and their real-world execution, and to consider the legacies of human grief, anger, mistrust, and dismay that surely follow violent conflict. I hope that these images will also open a window on the grace of Iraq and perhaps help to give a few of these memories a place to rest.”
This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and draws upon 62 digital inkjet prints generously loaned by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.
This exhibition is accompanied by a book, “Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq (2005),” published by Chelsea Green Publishing. The volume contains the photographic collaboration of Thorne Anderson and Kael Alford and the work of two other independent photojournalists, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad and Rita Leistner. Combining text and images in an unflinching perspective, Unembedded illustrates the simultaneous brutality and poignancy of war-torn Iraq.
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