Humanizing US Iraq Causalities / PHOTO

For the past years, reports about mounting US casualties in war-ravaged Iraq have largely been confined to figures and statistics. Nina Berman, a US photographer, has been tirelessly working to change this by putting a human face to the figures.

Humanizing US Iraq Causalities / PHOTO

For the past years, reports about mounting US casualties in war-ravaged Iraq have largely been confined to figures and statistics.

Nina Berman, a US photographer, has been tirelessly working to change this by putting a human face to the figures.



"I started working on it out of exasperation at not seeing any visual representation of the human cost of war," Berman told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Sunday, August 26.

"In the press you kept hearing reports or reading reports about wounded but never seeing any images."


One of the photos displayed at a rare exhibition at New York's Jen Bekman Gallery, which runs until August 30, shows US Marine Sergeant Ty Ziegel, 24.
When a bomber attacked his unit in Iraq, the heat from the blast melted the skin on his face while the explosion shattered his skull and destroyed one arm.


Ziegel's burns left him with no nose, hair or ears.

He has a plastic dome for a skull and a toe grafted onto his right hand to replace a thumb. The other arm is amputated just below the elbow. He is also blind in one eye.

The photo shows him on his wedding day, wearing his dress uniform and looking across the frame, though it is hard to discern any emotion on his heavily-scarred features.

His bride is wearing a traditional white dress, clutching a bouquet of red roses and wearing an impenetrable expression that could be sadness, anger, fear or resignation.

The Iraq war has so far claimed the lives of some 3,700 soldiers and left more than 27,500 others wounded.

Scarred for Life

While Ziegel is one of the most tragic subjects in the exhibition, themed entitled "Nina Berman: Purple Hearts," he is by no means alone.

Robert Acosta, 20, lost his right hand and the use of his left leg in a grenade attack on his humvee in Baghdad.

His psychological wounds seem to hurt as much as his physical.

"Nobody really knows what the soldiers are going through. They see on TV, oh yeah, two soldiers got wounded today and they think yeah he'll be all right," Acosta lamented.

"But that soldier is scarred for life both physically and mentally."



Acosta, now wearing prosthetic arm, has been living in a nightmare since his return from Iraq.

"They ask stupid questions like, 'Was it hot? Did you shoot anybody?' They want me to glorify war and say it was so cool. The reality of it is, seeing all that crap f… you up in the head, man," he said.

"I can't sleep at night. It sucks. It really sucks."

The most tragic of Berman's subjects, she said, was Sam Ross, a 21-year-old who was blinded and lost a leg in an explosion while disposing of surplus munitions.

She photographed him near the trailer where he lives alone in rural Pennsylvania, his prosthetic leg sticking out of a pair of rolled up jeans.

Since returning from Iraq, Ross has tried to commit suicide several times.

"I lost my leg just below the knee. Lost my eyesight. I have shrapnel in pretty much every part of my body."

Far-reaching

Berman started taking photos of the wounded shortly after the 2003 invasion, shooting not in hospital wards but in soldiers' homes, far from the media glare.

She was most interested not in their physical wounds but the psychological scars hidden beneath.

"I photograph them alone, mainly in their rooms, which to me feel like little cages.

"I see them alienated and dispossessed."

Berman has also tried to shed lights on the impact of such devastating wounds on the soldiers' families.

"For the families it's a huge thing.

"It doesn't just happen to one person, it happens to an entire family."

The photographer said that although she sees herself as a neutral observer, the photographs are almost inevitably anti-war.

"I think it's very hard to stomach the idea that war is acceptable when you see the damage to human beings."

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Last Mod: 27 Ağustos 2007, 13:46
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