A Closer Look at “In Country”

mike_moriartyWorking with veterans recently returned from the two wars in the Middle East, photographer Jennifer Karady’s work focus on traumatic memories of soldiers, and their difficulty in returning to the normalcy of civilian life. The depictions of these memories are often quite at odds with the banalities of everyday life. The jarring contradictions in setting can be disconcerting.

So how does Karady set up the often disturbing stories shown in her photography? The process is collaborative. First, she conducts extensive interviews with the veteran subjects, part of a lengthy planning process. Then, each veteran reenacts the memory they have chosen to show; often, they’re in uniform, surrounded by family and friends that are in their everyday life. In the upcoming show, the veterans’ memories and interviews will be included alongside Karady’s photographs.

I find the above photograph to be particularly horrific.

An excerpt from the catalog reads:

We were escorting a convoy north of Balad Airbase to Camp Speicher. I was a gunner in the lead escort vehicle — an up-armored Humvee….On this night we were traveling at approximately 55 to 60 mph. Up ahead a few hundred meters I noticed a vehicle that appeared to be ready to make a U-turn on the dirt median. […]. As we got closer I recognized it as a Toyota pickup, and my concern became more intense that he was going to shoot straight in front of us….Just as we were within 50 meters, the Toyota abruptly dashed in front of us, crossed our path, and pulled onto the shoulder of the highway in an evasive fashion. My driver screamed “Oh, my God!,” and just as the tires started to screech I saw a woman right in front of our hood…Before anyone could even think, we slammed into this woman. […]. In absolute horror we watched five or six trucks trample the woman’s body. I remember her flopping in the road like a rag doll as each truck stampeded her. I knew there was no way she was alive but still felt overwhelmed with feelings of humanity and could not bear to see the body of an innocent human being so degraded. I ran into the road and picked up her torso and carried it to a ‘safe’ place beside the road. As I picked her up I immediately noticed her head was missing and one of her legs was gone.

Sergeant Moriarty, who is telling the story, goes on to remember seeing her black burka on the road, and cookies scattered around the body. He found out later that the woman was a local mother of a 4-year-old boy.

This wrenching story is just one of many. Here at the gallery, we are almost finished with the installation, and are just working on the finishing touches. Come to the opening reception tomorrow night to hear a talk from the artist and see the show.

Details: 

Former Sergeant Mike Moriarty, New Hampshire Army National Guard, veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, with wife, Randi, and children, Matthew and Kenley; Keene, NH, June 2007
48”x 48” Chromogenic Color Print

Thursday, March 31st, 5 pm: Artist talk with Jennifer Karady in the Gallery. Reception 5 – 8 pm.

Posted by Anna