MY WAR: Wartime Photographs by Vietnam Veterans
MY WAR presents a collection of personal photographs and poetry by Vietnam veterans, offering an all-but-unexplored viewpoint on that war and the men who fought it. Photographed during the war, the memories of the war for these men are indelibly partnered with their collective experiences, and remain vivid decades later.
Many of the photographs in this exhibition capture the in-between moments. In some cases, in between a friend’s life and death, in between bombing runs or ground offensives, in between here and there, on the road, in wakeful waiting, worrying and hoping, caught in the tedium of teamwork and down moments while ticking away time.
Four decades on, these veterans not only continue to pay dearly—emotionally, physically and psychologically— but the added wound of being welcomed home as social pariahs is a lifelong scar that still complicates memory.
These men were as brave and dedicated as the generations who fought in all of the wars, great and small. Vietnam, tragically, was their generation’s war.
—Marissa Roth, curator
These veterans chose to photograph subjects with enduring war themes: the terrain, the camaraderie, the weaponry, the fighting, moments of levity and visual poetry, moments of quiet and signs of life, and its ever-present invisible partner, death. All of these images are poignant and serve as a true testament to the courage at the core of the human spirit. Within them lies the recognition of the commonality fundamental to the human experience of being alive, which in the context of the Vietnam War encompasses the range of human emotions while fighting a war. To bear photographic witness to the impermanence of their surroundings and to the humanity in the faces of both their friends and foes, took great insight, compassion, and awareness.
With the exception of the black-and-white photographs taken with black-and-white film, many of the images in this exhibition have faded or shifted in color over time.
“ As long as my brothers-and-sisters-in-arms have to live beneath the long shadow cast across their lives by the war; as long as there are those who disrespect and condemn the participants in rather than the architects of that terrible, wasteful conflict; as long as there are those unlucky enough to be plagued with
psychological and physical afflictions resultant from their participation in the war; as long as our government continues to see and to use armed conflict as the primary and inescapable response to international conflict; as long as each returned veteran fails to receive his due; as long as there remain scores, even hundreds whose fate remains unknown, be they MIA or KIA; I will feel compelled to keep the war from fading, from ending for myself either.”
—Steve Maddox, Captain, U.S. Army Infantry, MAT 234, team 45, Military Assistance Command Vietnam, Ninh Thuan Province, Vietnam September 1968 – February 1969
|72 photographic prints with related text and poetry by 25 Vietnam veterans|
|Availability||Linear Feet||Shipping Info||Rental Fee|
|through 2022||+/- 115 (no spacing)||2 crates, approx. 450 lbs||please inquire|
|The HIGHGROUND Veterans Memorial Park||Niellsville, WI||August - October 2016|
|San Juan Islands Museum of Art||Friday Harbor, WA, WA 98250 US||April 5 to June 3, 2019|