One has to congratulate Side Gallery on their skill, effort, and shrewd insight in bringing the recognized and critically acclaimed work of Nina Berman to the northeast with two exhibitions of her work. With Afghanistan once again dominating headlines in the mass media, Berman’s work in documenting the American social and political landscape post 9/11 has an acute and timely relevance to it.
Homeland delivers an uneasy and somewhat ironic documentary of the uncomfortable fundamentalist nationalism that has developed in America, whilst Marine Wedding captures the heartbreaking cost of war through portraits of a seriously wounded marine sergeant who, having survived the fighting in Iraq, is attempting to return to as normal a life as possible.
The fallout from the military response to the terrorist attacks and its tragic mutation into the universal war on terror is all here in these pictures: the fear, the confusion, the pride, and the tragedy of American foreign policy. It is a stark reminder that this is not the utopian world we imagined the 21st century would usher in. That said, there is also hope in the pictures, and Ty Ziegal, a reluctant symbol of the Iraq war, is a complex embodiment of where we are, and where we can go.
Nina Berman is at Side Gallery until 22nd August 2009.