Iraq | Perspectives

Iraq | Perspectives

Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography

More about this series

Book Pages: 120 Illustrations: 96 color photographs Published: November 2011

Author: Benjamin Lowy

Contributor: William Eggleston

Subjects
Art and Visual Culture > Photography, Middle East Studies

Selected by William Eggleston as Winner
The Center for Documentary Studies / Honickman First Book Prize in Photography

Benjamin Lowy’s powerful and arresting color photographs, taken over a six-year period through Humvee windows and military-issue night vision goggles, capture the desolation of a war-ravaged Iraq as well as the tension and anxiety of both U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians. To photograph on the streets unprotected was impossible for Lowy, so he made images that illuminate this difficulty by shooting photographs through the windows and goggles meant to help him, and soldiers, to see. In doing so he provides us with a new way of looking at the war—an entirely different framework for regarding and thinking about the everyday activities of Iraqis in a devastated landscape and the movements of soldiers on patrol, as well as the alarm and apprehension of nighttime raids.

“Iraq was a land of blast walls and barbed wire fences. I made my first image of a concrete blast wall through the window of my armored car. These pictures show a fragment of Iraqi daily life taken by a transient passenger in a Humvee; yet they are a window to a world where work, play, tension, grief, survival, and everything in between are as familiar as the events of our own lives. . . . [In] the ‘Nightvision’ images . . . as soldiers weave through the houses and bedrooms of civilians during nighttime military raids, they encounter the faces of their suspects as well as bystanders, many of whom are parents protecting their children. . . . I hope that these images provide the viewer with momentary illumination of the fear and desperation that is war.”—Benjamin Lowy

Praise

“Straddling the line between art and photojournalism, Lowy depicts both the US presence in Iraq as well as everyday Iraqi experience by ‘shooting’ through Humvee reinforced windows and military-issue night goggles. . . . This distanced viewing makes a subtle yet powerful comment on photojournalistic practice and embedded journalism while at the same time providing a powerful visual narrative of the horrors of war.” — Hotshoe

“I’m not one to shirk engaging the discussion of a book but Iraq | Perspectives puts me in an unusual place. It is an important, memorable and arresting photobook, and for all these reasons I’m left rather without anything to say. This book is hard for me to talk about simply because the work speaks so extraordinarily well for itself. The images that are compact and succinct, presenting at once the literal and metaphorical. It is among the best representations of the day to day realities of our soldiers and the psychological boundaries keeping us from comprehending Iraq and this war.” — Sarah Bradley, Photo-Eye

“Lowy’s photographs of both daily life and the terror of warfare were taken through the windows of a Humvee and through military-issue night vision goggles. They provide a revealing perspective on what he describes as ‘the fear and desperation that is war.’” (A Top Small Press Books of 2011) — Shelf Unbound

“The mediation inscribed in the image - the window frame, the night vision haze - positions us in relation to the scene. By representing the act of perception, by addressing the experience of observation as much as the observation of experiences, Lowy’s subject is both what the soldier sees and how the soldier sees. The pictures contain the clues and tools that encourage the audience to consider photojournalism as practice. Lowy’s frames do what all photography does, but they do it exceptionally well: they simultaneously invite us to look, and hold us in place.” — Leo Hsu, Foto8

“Whether looking out of armoured car windows or through green-tinted night-vision goggles, the military has little opportunity to connect with the local people or everyday life, as Lowy's shots make chillingly clear.” (Best Books of 2011) — British Journal of Photography

"These images were practically asking to be in a book together-everything about them-the conception, the subject, the fact that we're still at war, the way the pictures were taken. Benjamin's work is an opportunity to see as an American soldier sees when in Iraq-nobody's ever shown that, especially through night vision goggles.” — William Eggleston, Prize Judge

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Benjamin Lowy is a freelance photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He received a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis in 2002 and began his career in 2003 when he was embedded with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division to cover the Iraq War. Lowy’s career as a conflict photographer has also taken him to Haiti, Darfur, and Afghanistan, among other places. Lowy’s photographs have appeared in such publications as the New York Times Magazine, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ, Stern, National Geographic Adventure, Men’s Journal, and Rolling Stone, and his work has been recognized by American Photography, Foam Magazine, POYi, Photo District News (PDN’s 30), World Press Photo, and Critical Mass. His work has been exhibited at San Francisco MOMA, Tate Modern, Open Society Institute’s Moving Walls, Noorderlicht Photofestival, Battlespace, and the Houston Center for Photography, among others. Lowy’s photographs from Iraq were chosen from over two hundred entries as the fifth winner of the biennial CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography.

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Winner, 2012 Infinity Award for Photojournalism, presented by the International Center of Photography


Winner, 2012 New York Photo Awards for Best Photobook in the Series Category


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