Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
May 2, 2009

The Texas Pioneer Adventure Is Closed


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The Iraqi refugee dips her head. Her child — in the Winnie the Pooh hat — clutches to her. The trees block a wide marine vista. The Texas flag doubles back on itself. The wagon ride is that way. The sign on the chain reads: “The Texas Pioneer Adventure is closed.”

This photo, taken by contributer Nina Berman, shows an Iraqi immigrant on a group visit, with other Iraqi women, to a park and arboretum in Texas. It does not specifically show discouragement or exclusion. It does not specifically demonstrate Iraqi refugees coming to the U.S. in a pioneering spirit and being effectively denied access to our culture, history and pastimes.

Still, given the dire circumstances Iraqi immigrants are facing here in the U.S., this is effectively true — the image, in fact, juxtaposing this hokey monument to the pioneer spirit with an Iraqi struggling with the recession, local indifference and limited if any support from the U.S. to help establish herself “in the homeland.”

I recommend you go over Alternet to read Nina’s report on Iraqi refugees in Dallas, and to see her accompanying slide show.

(image: Nina Berman, Dallas, TX. 2009)

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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