Synopses & Reviews
Selected by William Eggleston as Winner
The Center for Documentary Studies / Honickman First Book Prize in Photography
Benjamin Lowyandrsquo;s powerful and arresting color photographs, taken over a six-year period through Humvee windows and military-issue night vision goggles, capture the desolation of a war-ravaged Iraq as well as the tension and anxiety of both U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians. To photograph on the streets unprotected was impossible for Lowy, so he made images that illuminate this difficulty by shooting photographs through the windows and goggles meant to help him, and soldiers, to see. In doing so he provides us with a new way of looking at the warandmdash;an entirely different framework for regarding and thinking about the everyday activities of Iraqis in a devastated landscape and the movements of soldiers on patrol, as well as the alarm and apprehension of nighttime raids.
andldquo;Iraq was a land of blast walls and barbed wire fences. I made my first image of a concrete blast wall through the window of my armored car. These pictures show a fragment of Iraqi daily life taken by a transient passenger in a Humvee; yet they are a window to a world where work, play, tension, grief, survival, and everything in between are as familiar as the events of our own lives. . . . [In] the andlsquo;Nightvisionandrsquo; images . . . as soldiers weave through the houses and bedrooms of civilians during nighttime military raids, they encounter the faces of their suspects as well as bystanders, many of whom are parents protecting their children. . . . I hope that these images provide the viewer with momentary illumination of the fear and desperation that is war.andrdquo;andmdash;Benjamin Lowy
andquot;These images were practically asking to be in a book together-everything about them-the conception, the subject, the fact that we're still at war, the way the pictures were taken. Benjamin's work is an opportunity to see as an American soldier sees when in Iraq-nobody's ever shown that, especially through night vision goggles.andrdquo;andmdash;William Eggleston, Prize Judge
andldquo;Lowy's photos are unmistakably scenes from Iraqandmdash;ruined buildings, street vendors, kids with missing limbs, billboards for newly minted cellphone services. In Lowy's images, we see daily life returning to this country, but the children shown have known little but this forlorn landscape. Dreariness is all. The most original component of Lowy's book is the thematic divisions. The first part consists of images captured through the windows of military Humvees, while the second part consists entirely of green night-vision images and yields the most intimate moments, including Iraqi civilians being intimidatd and detained in what appear to be their own homes.andrdquo; - David Fellerath, The Independent Weekly
andldquo;Lowyandrsquo;s photographs of both daily life and the terror of warfare were taken through the windows of a Humvee and through military-issue night vision goggles. They provide a revealing perspective on what he describes as andlsquo;the fear and desperation that is war.andrsquo;andrdquo;
andldquo;The mediation inscribed in the image - the window frame, the night vision haze - positions us in relation to the scene. By representing the act of perception, by addressing the experience of observation as much as the observation of experiences, Lowyandrsquo;s subject is both what the soldier sees and how the soldier sees. The pictures contain the clues and tools that encourage the audience to consider photojournalism as practice. Lowyandrsquo;s frames do what all photography does, but they do it exceptionally well: they simultaneously invite us to look, and hold us in place.andrdquo;
andldquo;Whether looking out of armoured car windows or through green-tinted night-vision goggles, the military has little opportunity to connect with the local people or everyday life, as Lowy's shots make chillingly clear.andrdquo;
andldquo;Iandrsquo;m not one to shirk engaging the discussion of a book but Iraq | Perspectives puts me in an unusual place. It is an important, memorable and arresting photobook, and for all these reasons Iandrsquo;m left rather without anything to say. This book is hard for me to talk about simply because the work speaks so extraordinarily well for itself. The images that are compact and succinct, presenting at once the literal and metaphorical. It is among the best representations of the day to day realities of our soldiers and the psychological boundaries keeping us from comprehending Iraq and this war.andrdquo;
About the Author
Benjamin Lowy is a freelance photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He received a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis in 2002 and began his career in 2003 when he was embedded with the U.S. Armyandrsquo;s 101st Airborne Division to cover the Iraq War. Lowyandrsquo;s career as a conflict photographer has also taken him to Haiti, Darfur, and Afghanistan, among other places. Lowyandrsquo;s photographs have appeared in such publications as the New York Times Magazine, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ, Stern, National Geographic Adventure, Menandrsquo;s Journal, and Rolling Stone, and his work has been recognized by American Photography, Foam Magazine, POYi, Photo District News (PDNandrsquo;s 30), World Press Photo, and Critical Mass. His work has been exhibited at San Francisco MOMA, Tate Modern, Open Society Instituteandrsquo;s Moving Walls, Noorderlicht Photofestival, Battlespace, and the Houston Center for Photography, among others. Lowyandrsquo;s photographs from Iraq were chosen from over two hundred entries as the fifth winner of the biennial CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography.