October 23, 2010

John Moore’s Detention Photos: We Just Lost

John Moore/Getty Images via NYT Lens Blog

John Moore/Getty Images via NYT Lens Blog

Pro-war or anti-war, drawing us into the body of that soldier and then having us consider that televised image through his eyes is just crushing.

In consideration of yesterday’s massive new Wikileaks release, the intense interest in the BagNewsSalon audio slideshow interview with Michael Kamber about military censorship, and then yesterday’s Lens Blog feature on John Moore’s detention photos from Iraq, I couldn’t overlook this photo.

There are many striking images in the Lens/Moore slideshow, but this one jumped out at me as much for the irony and the political implications as the psychology.  I’ve followed John Moore’s photo-documentation of the recession very closely, and find him incredibly gifted at capturing images that contain and channel the most complex emotions.

How are we drawn into the soldier’s body?

Juxtaposed against humdrum cafe comings-and-goings (weapons not withstanding), the moral force of the crimes at Abu Ghraib concentrate in this one soldier in our presence. Since we are blocked from seeing his reaction to this incredible stimuli — the iconic Abu Ghraib figure wired up and standing on the box — we are forced to lend our own eyes and gut to imagine what the soldier must be feeling.

As we’re all well aware, you can win any number of battles and still lose the war.  The invitation here is nothing short of witnessing, on behalf of this soldier, how America just lost.

By the way, also note the odd bat-like figure in the wood.  (Oh, it’s a Christmas tree decoration, maybe?)

Complete slideshow: American Custody

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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