This exhibition presents the photographs of Kael Alford (American, b. 1971) and Thorne Anderson (American, b. 1966), two American-trained photo journalists who documented the impact and aftermath of the US-led allied invasion of Iraq in 2003. They made these photographs during a two-year span that began in the months leading up to the allied invasion in spring 2003 and covers the emergence of the armed militias that challenged the allied forces and later the new central Iraqi government.
The photographs were made outside the confines of the U.S. military’s embedded journalist program, in an attempt to get closer to the daily realities of Iraqi citizens. The photographers wanted to show Iraq from an important and often neglected point of view. This shift in physical perspective placed them in great danger, but they sought to learn how the war, and the seismic political and cultural shifts that accompanied it, were affecting ordinary people.
Baghdad fell to the allied forces on April 9, 2003. A decade later, reflecting on why this work was made, Kael Alford has stated “I consider these photographs invitations to the viewer to learn more, to explore the relationships between public policy objectives and their real world execution and to consider the legacies of human grief, anger, mistrust and dismay that surely follow violent conflict. I hope that these images will also open a window on the grace of Iraq and perhaps help to give a few of these memories a place to rest.”
This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and draws upon works generously loaned by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.