Sunday, September 28, 2008

Regarding the Pain of Others

Over a passage of time, this series of photos by Nina Berman depicts Iraq veteran Ty Ziegel and his girlfriend. Berman captures the couple before Ziegel went to war, Ziegel as a handsome soldier serving overseas, Ziegel disfigured by a horrible accident on the battlefield, Ziegel and Kline on their wedding day, and Ziegel alone, after the couple separated and eventually divorced three months after their marriage. It's not my intention to sensationalize those events in a young man's life, only to point out the power of photography to place his story before us. We know war is hell, but we're seldom confronted with its consequences. I don't think I'm politicizing Ziegel's story if I say, we this series of images serves as a pointed reminder that we should be damn sure we're initiating a war for good reasons before sending our young men and women over there, the length of their lives stretched out before them. I have to note that I feel somewhat trite even writing the preceding, since the point seems obvious. If only we'd adhered to the principle.

The photography blog BagNewsNotes posted an image from this series in early 2007. Reading the comments on that post, it's both poignant and shocking to see how they encapsulate hope and well wishes upon Ziegel's marriage. Yet the full photo series tell a different story. Kudo to Ziegel for allowing the entire story to be told.

Regarding the Pain of Others is, of course, the title of Susan Sontag's book on the impact of photography's depictions of violence and atrocities.

No comments: