Our World at War: Photojournalism Beyond the Front Lines

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
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Jun 06, 2009 / 0 comments



WASHINGTON, June 4 — Every day, journalists cover war and conflict around the globe. But what happens when the conflict ends, and media coverage shifts to the latest “hot spot?”

A new exhibit at the Newseum reveals the horror and the hope left behind in conflict’s wake. “Our World at War: Photojournalism Beyond the Front Lines” features 40 stirring photographs taken in eight countries by five award-winning photojournalists. The images reveal both despair and dignity, ranging from the loneliness of an elderly Philippine woman made homeless by war to the joy of two brothers reunited after being separated by fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The exhibit is presented by the Newseum and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which sent the VII Agency photographers — Ron Haviv, Antonin Kratochvil, Christopher Morris, James Nachtwey and Franco Pagetti — to eight countries to document how war and armed violence have affected people’s lives. “Our World at War” will be on display through Sept. 7, 2009, on the Newseum Concourse Level.

Over the last five months, the five award-winning photojournalists traveled with the ICRC to several of the world’s most dangerous countries. Morris was sent to Liberia; Kratochvil to Georgia; Pagetti to Colombia and Lebanon; Nachtwey to the Philippines and Afghanistan; and Haviv to Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The photographers captured images of pain and suffering as well as hope and compassion.

“Whatever else one might see or feel when looking at a picture of human suffering — outrage, sadness, disbelief — what I think is essential to take away from such an image is a sense of compassion,” said photojournalist Nachtwey.

The exhibit, located on the Newseum’s Concourse Level, is organized geographically, with a section devoted to each of the eight featured countries. Each section begins with a brief history of the conflict, noting particular challenges faced by those in the affected areas.

 “Our World at War”
is the second of three photojournalism exhibitions offered at the Newseum in 2009. “FOTOBAMA: Picturing the President” opened May 7 and, like “Our World at War,” will be on display through Sept. 7, 2009. On October 9, the Newseum will open “Athlete: The Sports Illustrated Photography of Walter Iooss.” “Athlete,” featuring photographs drawn from Iooss’ nearly 50 years of sports photojournalism, will be on display through Dec. 31, 2009.


About the “Our World at War” Photographers

Ron Haviv has used his photography to expose human rights violations from Latin America to the Middle East, Africa, Russia and the Balkans. He documented wars in Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has published two acclaimed books of photos, “Blood and Honey: A Balkan War Journal” and “Afghanistan: On the Road to Kabul.”

Antonin Kratochvil brings to his work his perspective as a former child refugee in his native Czechoslovakia. He has photographed street children in Mongolia and covered the war in Iraq for Fortune magazine. He produced a photo study of clashes between the Department of Homeland Security and American civil liberties in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Christopher Morris has spent much of the past 20 years focused on war, having documented more than 18 foreign conflicts, including the U.S. invasions of Panama and Iraq, the Persian Gulf War, the drug war in Colombia and the wars in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Somalia and Yugoslavia. Most recently, he documented the presidency of George W. Bush for Time magazine.

James Nachtwey has documented wars, conflicts and critical social issues since his first foreign assignment covering civil strife in Northern Ireland in 1981. Since then, Nachtwey has covered war and upheaval in Afghanistan, Bosnia, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, the Philippines, Rwanda, Somalia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand and the United States. He has been on contract with Time magazine since 1984.

Franco Pagetti has covered crises in many countries, including Afghanistan, Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone and Sudan. He began covering the conflict in Iraq in January 2003, three months before the war began. Since then, he has been based primarily in Baghdad, mainly on assignment for Time magazine.

This exhibit, created by the ICRC and VII Photo Agency, is part of a global campaign to raise awareness of humanitarian challenges and to mark the 150th anniversary of the Red Cross movement.

About the ICRC

The International Committee of the Red Cross is a neutral, independent humanitarian organization that protects and aids the civilian and military victims of conflict around the world.

Since its founding in 1863, the ICRC has provided food, water and medical assistance to civilians, visited prisoners of war and detainees, helped to reunite family members separated by conflict, spread understanding of humanitarian law and worked to ensure international humanitarian law is obeyed during conflicts.

The ICRC directs and coordinates the international relief activities conducted by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in situations of conflict.

About the Newseum

The Newseum — a 250,000-square-foot museum of news — offers visitors an experience that blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits. Within its seven levels of galleries and theaters, the Newseum offers a unique environment that takes museum-goers behind the scenes to experience how and why news is made.

The Newseum is located at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., on America’s Main Street between the White House and the U.S. Capitol and adjacent to the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall. The exterior’s unique architectural features include a 74-foot-high marble engraving of the First Amendment and an immense front wall of glass through which passers-by can watch the museum fulfilling its mission of providing a forum where the media and the public can gain a better understanding of each other.

The Newseum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors (65 and older), $13 for youth (7 to 18). Annual memberships also are available. For additional information, the public may call 888/NEWSEUM (888/639-7386) or visit newseum.org.

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