This is one exhibition where viewers will find no peace.
“War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath,” opening Nov. 8 at the Brooklyn Museum, features the work of 255 photographers chronicling the last 166 years of combat around the globe.
The 400 prints, portraits, books, and magazines that make up the massive exhibition are the result of a decade of research and they document every facet of war, beginning at recruitment and training and continuing through to battle, death, and destruction. Iconic images, including Joe Rosenthal’s Old Glory Goes Up on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, share wall space with more contemporary and obscure works, such as Peter van Agtmael’s poignant snapshot of a veteran amputee crossing toy light sabers with his sons.
“There’s a lot of humanity in the show,” said Tricia Laughlin-Bloom, associate curator of exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum. “It’s cross-cultural, cross-generational, and highly significant, whatever your position toward war is.”
The show originated at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where, at nearly 500 pieces, it was an even bigger beast. In paring down the materials to fit the Brooklyn Museum, Laughlin-Bloom was keen on keeping local talent on display.
“New York is a great center for photojournalism, so throughout the five boroughs, there’s a wealth of great photographers,” said Laughlin-Bloom.
Brooklyn shutterbugs who have work in the show include Todd Heisler, Spencer Platt, Ron Haviv, and Carolyn Cole, said the curator. The work of Tim Hetherington, a Williamsburg war chronicler who was killed in 2011 while on the job in Libya, will also be featured.
The museum will provide a variety of public programming throughout the exhibition’s three-month run, including book signings, photographer talks, and film screenings. The show itself will also engage audiences with local lens-masters and veterans through virtual question-and-answer sessions. iPads will be scattered throughout the exhibition space, and museum-goers will be able to ask documentarians and former soldiers questions via email and watch video clips of them discussing their work.
“There’s plenty of information in the show, but to invite conversation is something we often find new ways to do,” said Laughlin-Bloom. “We are really interested in trying to communicate with our audience.”
“War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath” at the Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy. near Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights, (718) 638–5000, www.brooklynmuseum.org], Nov. 8–Feb 2, 2014, $12 (suggested). Admission is free for veterans and their families.