Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
November 18, 2007

Your Turn: War Time America


(click for larger view)

My first association….

Right after returning from Spain in August, I remember turning on the TV to watch a bit of the U.S. Open tennis tournament.  Having been away from the States for nearly a year, I remember being jarred by the super-sized and jingoistic display of the session's opening festivities.  An American flag was stretched out that literally spanned the footprint of the stadium court.  Liza Minelli was called upon to ring (wring?) out a painfully long and overwrought rendition of America the Beautiful.  Then, a squadron of fighter jets blew violently over the top of the stadium in perfect coordination with the end of the song.

In her continuing look at militarization and the security of the homeland, contributer Nina Berman offers us a set of images tied to Atlantic City's "Thunder Over The Boardwalk" air show this past August.  As she writes:

There are many of these shows all around the country done by all branches of the military.  They are huge productions costing millions of dollars and usually have a very robust, aggressive energy.  They now also have a big recruitment component.

I am interested in your reflections on the photo, as well as either or both of its companions (1, 2).  Because Nina was more interested in the areas of the beach which were off from the main viewing ground, there are elements here that lend a particular twist to the themes of power and defense.  In general, however, I feel the shot conveys a unique mood and aura of post-9/11 America, America under the "terror war," or what the Administration constantly refers to as "America at war."

I'll be happy to join you in the discussion thread.

(image: ©Nina Berman.  New Jersey.  August 2007.  Used by permission)

About the Photographer

Nina Berman

Nina Berman is a documentary photographer with a primary interest in the American political and social landscape. She is the author of two monographs, "Purple Hearts – Back from Iraq" and "Homeland," both examining war and militarism. Her work has been recognized with awards in art and journalism from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the World Press Photo Foundation, the Open Society Institute Documentary Fund and Hasselblad, among others. She has participated in more than 90 solo and group exhibitions, including the Whitney Museum 2010 Biennial, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Portland Art Museum, and Dublin Contemporary. Her work has been featured on CBS, CNN, PBS, ABC, BBC and reviewed in the New York Times, Aperture, Art in America, TIME, and the New Yorker. She is a member of NOOR photo collective and is an Associate Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in New York City. See more of Nina's work for Reading The Pictures here.

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