Visual Dispatches from the Vietnam War
The Currier Museum of Art
Visual Dispatches from the Vietnam War is an exhibition that focuses on the influence that photojournalism had on our perceptions of the Vietnam War. Various images, such as the infamous ‘Napalm Girl’ photograph, are displayed alongside video interviews of the journalists who took them. The result is an understanding of how images can bring to light the true nature of war and also, sometimes, misrepresent situations.
At the end of an exhibition is an area where Vietnam veterans are welcomed to place their own photographs and memories, which offer another perspective to the story. Veterans are also welcomed to stay in contact with the museum as part of the Veterans History Project. As a result, this exhibition is not only about the powerful and shocking images of the Vietnam War, but also about raising awareness of the psychological issues that Veterans deal with.
All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers.
A French cantinière during the Crimean War - 1855, photographed by Roger Fenton.
The ‘Napalm Girl’, 40 years later
Joe McNally, who was commissioned by LIFE magazine to find and photograph subjects of Pulitzer Prize winning photos, shot Kim Phuc – the girl running from an airborne attack in this devastatingly iconic shot during the Vietnam War.
The original photo was taken by AP photographer Nick Ut, and turned Kim into a propaganda tool for the anti-war movement. Joe had the privilege of meeting and photographing Kim, who had recently given birth to her newborn son. Joe knew to treat the situation with care, since showcasing her scars from the napalm burn was significant.
“For me, doing this assignment reconfirmed so many things I’ve always believed about photography,” says Joe in his blog post “On a Road, 40 Years Ago“. “That photo made on that horrible day was made in less than a second. Yet a lifetime spun on its power. With so many photographs being taken everywhere, easily, and thoughtlessly, it’s easy to forget how powerful they can be, and occasionally are.” (via)
Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.