C/W GRAPHIC IMAGES.
The purpose of art actually is, in many cases, to make you feel quite uncomfortable. Or at least to go to that place that’s already of discomfort inside of you and tap into that. – Michael Moore
I have never felt as deeply disturbed at looking at photographs as I have when I entered the War Remnants museum in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam in 2017. I got an intense feeling of discomfort and shock of the capabilities of human beings to inflict harm and the intense layers of human suffering. It showed an unfiltered and painfully truthful reality of conflict and the innocents who bear the brunt of war. These war photographs were an art within themselves. The capability of the photographer to capture a moment in time which depicted such horror, and emotion which served a political purpose in educating the world about the atrocities of the Vietnam War whilst reminding the viewer that the people were real people, with real lives, not just images and symbols to represent something greater. Most importantly, the sheer depiction of these people’s emotions remind the viewer the personal cost of war, away from depersonalised statistics and political gains . The ability of the War photographer to immerse themselves within the conflict and picture exact moments which depicted pivotal emotions are crucial and effective in evoking emotion, and swaying global movements and remembering history, most importantly remembering what human beings are capable of.
Perhaps to me, what makes war photographs an especially poignant form of art is that they do not shy away from reality and truth. They purely depict real life, with no enhancement.
They are unnerving, uncomfortable, yet so deeply powerful.
These are some are the most poignant, and yet uncomfortable war photographs from the museum. These photographs have stayed with me for many years.
C/W graphic/ upsetting images.
In this picture depicted above, Vietnamese villagers, including children, huddle in terror, moments before being killed in My Lai, Vietnam, 1968.
This a picture from the My Lai Massacre in 1968. A heartbreaking and haunting picture of sheer terror before death, depicting a universal human emotion of fear and seeking loved ones for comfort, makes this picture especially heartbreaking.
A vietcong prisoner awaits interrogation, 1967. The humiliating nature of this imprisonment, the vulnerable position of the prisoner and the focus of him within the frame, evokes immense sympathy.
A widow, cries over the remains of her dead husband, found in a mass grave, killed during the Tet Offensive by the Viet Cong. This photo shows nothing but raw emotion and agonising sadness. The sad condensation of a human life into that small bag emphasises the horror of war not giving dignity in death and a harrowing reality of memento mori.
This photograph shows the inferno that is war, pure chaos and calamity, showing the unstructured and savage nature of war.
Lastly, the most famous and arguably the most poignant photograph ‘Napalm Girl’ encompasses the horror of the Vietnam War and the unethical effect it had on innocents. This photo became a symbol of everything wrong with the War and American warfare, erupting into a national and global moment against the war calling for America’s withdrawal from this unethical war.
An iconic, haunting photo. No description can give it justice.Recommended1 recommendationPublished in History, Photography