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photo-eye Book Reviews: War Is Only Half the Story, Vol 4

War Is Only Half the Story, Vol IV.
Published by The Aftermath Project, 2012.
War Is Only Half the Story, Vol IV
Reviewed by George Slade

War Is Only Half the Story, Vol 4
Photographs by Danny Wilcox Frazier, Monika Bulaj, Jessica Hines, Helena Schaetzle, Olga Kravets, Maria Morina, & Oksana Yushko
The Aftermath Project, 2012. Softcover. 104 pp., illustrated throughout, 11x11".


"War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothin.'"
—Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, lyrics for a song recorded by The Temptations, Edwin Starr (both versions released in 1970), and Bruce Springsteen (1986)

War’s daily tumult grabs the headlines. But captured land, troop maneuvers, casualties, felled statues, and prisoners of war are only a point on a continuum; the visible, newsworthy part is considerably less than half of the story. War arises from a mixture of accumulated intolerance and historic grievance, and that inherited burden has proven difficult to relieve or even redress with non-violent means. The tendency toward catharsis through conflict is deeply embedded in our species.

The Aftermath Project, by providing fellowship awards to photographers and publishing their work, is dedicated to addressing the ripple effects; what happens when that inherited weight of conflict explodes through the surface of our daily lives and plunges into our collective, corporeal memory. How do we live with war’s legacy, let alone its chaotic present tense?

War Is Only Half the Story, Vol 4, by Photographs by Danny Wilcox Frazier, Monika Bulaj, Jessica Hines, Helena Schaetzle, Olga Kravets, Maria Morina, and Oksana Yushko. Published by The Aftermath Project, 2012.

As the photographs contained in the four books from The Aftermath Project have demonstrated, there are innumerable ways in which war impacts lives, and there is no statute of limitations on its effects. Volume two reached back to the Turkish/Armenian conflict at the turn of the twentieth century. The new volume (released last December, so officially a 2011 publication) goes even further, to the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. Danny Wilcox Frazier’s jarringly evocative black-and-white photographs reveal the pained spirit of this scarred territory, the Oglala Lakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation in the South Dakota Badlands, where the inheritants of the massacre still strive for self-definition.

War Is Only Half the Story, Vol 4, by Photographs by Danny Wilcox Frazier, Monika Bulaj, Jessica Hines, Helena Schaetzle, Olga Kravets, Maria Morina, and Oksana Yushko. Published by The Aftermath Project, 2012.
War Is Only Half the Story, Vol 4, by Photographs by Danny Wilcox Frazier, Monika Bulaj, Jessica Hines, Helena Schaetzle, Olga Kravets, Maria Morina, and Oksana Yushko. Published by The Aftermath Project, 2012.

Even if all wars, whatever their scale or nature, were to end today, the world would still suffer from PTSD. Even if the remarkable images by Frazier and his six colleagues in this volume feel like nothing more than confetti in the hurricane of military aggression, their import cannot be denied. Sad to say there will be fodder for The Aftermath Project for generations, even centuries, to come. If it has to be good for something, war has given rise to this undertaking, which is absolutely more than nothing. (There are numerous other photographers whose work addresses the effects of war; I like to gather them under the heading “WIIGF?” in tribute to Whitfield and Strong.)

War Is Only Half the Story, Vol 4, by Photographs by Danny Wilcox Frazier, Monika Bulaj, Jessica Hines, Helena Schaetzle, Olga Kravets, Maria Morina, and Oksana Yushko. Published by The Aftermath Project, 2012.

But like most war photographers, I imagine Sara Terry, founder and director of The Aftermath Project, would prefer not to have the job she does. Being out of work would mean the world in a state of peace, free of senseless, egocentric slaughter and decimation, free of the consequences of human intolerance. Until that time, I hope these images, and the photographers who make them, continue to disrupt complacency and remind policy makers that our collective health as a society would benefit from more constructive, early interventions.—GEORGE SLADE

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GEORGE SLADE, a longtime contributor to photo-eye, is a photography writer, curator, historian and consultant based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He can be found on-line at http://rephotographica-slade.blogspot.com

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