I left Corcoran Gallery of Art on Friday with mixed feelings. We had just spent 45 minutes looking at images. Many of these images depicted human suffering. Was it appropriate of the photographer to take these images? Moreover, was it appropriate that these images were displayed at an art gallery for all to see? While these are complicated questions, I feel the answers are simple: yes. Unlike the artist who took photos of toy soldiers, the photographers who took pictures of human suffering were not doing so for artistic value. They took these photos to tell a story, to send a message; war is real, and its effects are horrendous.
Recall the images of war we saw on Friday. What did they all have in common? They all showed people suffering. Consider the subject of those images; they were people of all ages, of all races and of all races. War knows no limits. We saw images of children in Vietnam running for their lives. We saw an old woman who had been killed. We saw the mangled bodies of civilians who had been killed after a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. And of course, we saw soldiers who had been killed. These images showed the reality of war. They humanized it. They made it real.