Conflict, Time, Photography

Art, Photography
Recommended
5 out of 5 stars
Archive of Modern Conflict (Archive of Modern Conflict, 'A Guide for the Protection of the Public in Peacetime', 2014)
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Archive of Modern Conflict, 'A Guide for the Protection of the Public in Peacetime', 2014© Tate Photography
Toshio Fukada (The Mushroom Cloud - Less than twenty minutes after the explosion (1) 1945 )
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The Mushroom Cloud - Less than twenty minutes after the explosion (1) 1945 Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Tokyo, Japan)
Luc Delahaye (US Bombing on Taliban Positions, 2001)
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US Bombing on Taliban Positions, 2001Courtesy Luc Delahaye & Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Bruxelles
Don McCullin (Shell Shocked US Marine, The Battle of Hue 1968, printed 2013)
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Shell Shocked US Marine, The Battle of Hue 1968, printed 2013© Don McCullin
Simon Norfolk (Bullet-scarred apartment building and shops in the Karte Char district of Kabul. This area saw fighting between Hikmetyar and Rabbani and then between Rabbani and the Hazaras  2003)
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Bullet-scarred apartment building and shops in the Karte Char district of Kabul. This area saw fighting between Hikmetyar and Rabbani and then between Rabbani and the Hazaras 2003© Simon Norfolk
Jo Ractliffe (On the road to Cuito Cuanavale IV 2009)
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On the road to Cuito Cuanavale IV 2009Courtesy the artist
 (Installation view of 'Conflict, Time, Photography' at Tate Modern )
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Installation view of 'Conflict, Time, Photography' at Tate Modern Photo: © Tate Photography
Shomei Tomatsu (Steel Helmet with Skull Bone Fused by Atomic Bomb, Nagasaki 1963)
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Steel Helmet with Skull Bone Fused by Atomic Bomb, Nagasaki 1963© Shomei Tomatsu - interface. Courtesy of Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo
Kikuji Kawada  (Hinomaru, Japanese National Flag 1962)
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Hinomaru, Japanese National Flag 1962© Kikuji Kawada. Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery and Photo Gallery International.
Chloe Dewe Matthews (From 'Shot at Dawn', 2013)
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From 'Shot at Dawn', 2013© Chloe Dewe Matthews
An-My Lê  (Untitled, Hanoi 1995)
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Untitled, Hanoi 1995Courtesy of the artist and Murray Guy, New York

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that events are still happening.

As we look back over 100 years since the end of the First World War, the Tate examines the - often uneasy - relationship between photography and conflict.

Conflict has an immeasurable impact on civilisations, landscapes, countries, cities, towns, loved ones and our memories. So a photographic exhibition about war might not strike you as an engagingly rewarding blockbuster show. But this enlightening and thoughtful survey is exactly that. Through images taken moments, days, weeks, months and years after the event, the effect and trauma of war is re-evaluated from the reflective viewpoint of artists and photojournalists without relying on explicit imagery.

In the first gallery, four grainy black-and-white photographic prints of pillowy cloud formations are displayed opposite a peaceful landscape devoid of activity, but for a few puffs of grey smoke. If you didn’t read the wall text, you’d be unaware of the importance of these seemingly incidental moments. The fluffy mass is in fact the mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and the photo was taken by Toshio Fukada some twenty minutes after the event. Similarly the dusty vista by Luc Delahaye captures the moment after intensive bombing by the US of the Taliban in Afghanistan. These images are an abstract way to open a show about war, and successfully set it up to build a lasting impression.

There are haunting works such as Don McCullin’s photograph of a shell-shocked Marine taken post-combat in Vietnam. Clenching his rifle, he seems to stare right through you in an utterly distressed trance. Extraordinary pieces include Matsumoto Eiichi’s photograph in which the silhouette of a guard has been etched onto the side of a building, a result of the Nagasaki atomic explosion three weeks earlier. There are surprising exhibits like postcards of battlefields, produced for the glut of post-World War I tourists on ‘pilgrimages’ to see the battlefields and destruction first-hand. The ruins of war reverberate throughout the entire show, from Pierre Antony-Thouret’s images of Reims, a city reduced to rubble, to Simon Norfolk’s series ‘Afghanistan: Chronotopia’, 2001-02 which focuses on towns scarred by ongoing warfare.

Other artists have sought to reconnect the human, individual aspect often lost in the reporting of unimaginable genocides the world over. Diana Matar’s ‘Evidence’ series gives a voice to the victims who died under Gaddafi’s regime in Libya. Rather bleak, unpopulated locations are paired with harrowing facts about human-rights atrocities. Taryn Simon’s documentation of the 1995 Srebrencia massacre charts the effect on a family’s bloodline through portraits of surviving members and images of personal possessions recovered from mass graves.

Unfortunately there just isn’t enough space in this review to cover all the phenomenal projects included in this mammoth exhibition – although the Archive of Modern Conflict’s display of idiosyncratic war-related paraphernalia merits a mention.

You will feel educated and heart-broken in equal measure by these awe-inspiring photographs that challenge the way war can be portrayed, and the way we engage with photographs so that we actually see the inconceivable.

Freire Barnes

Posted:

Details

Event website: http://www.tate.org.uk
Event phone: 020 7887 8888
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