September 18, 2005
Exhibition that aired on NewsNight with Aaron Brown on September 22, 2004: BROWN: Still ahead on the program, still another piece of the Iraqi stories. Goodness, there are many. Ten Iraqi civilians share the details of their lives in still photos. We've often said the war in Iraq is many stories. And it is. Our job is to try and give voice to all of them over time. It's easy to forget that along with the bombing and the bloodshed, life in Iraq is also filled with the ordinary and struggle to preserve it. That story is the focus of an exhibit at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. It is a story we tell in pictures tonight. FRED RITCHIN, DIRECTOR, PIXELPRESS: The Daylights Community Arts Foundation is a small group that believes in doing documentary differently. So they had the idea of giving 10 disposable cameras to civilians in Iraq. And out of that, we found 30 very, very strong images that could be used for this exhibition. The people given cameras in Iraq were people known to several foreign journalists who were coming in and to the people they already knew in Iraq. And they were selected to get a cross-section of some extent of the Iraqi people. So you get a third-year English student from the University of Baghdad, a guy who lives in a garbage dump. You get somebody who's a dentist. They were told that explicitly that this is an opportunity to send a message to the American people, to tell them what is going on in Iraq, what is Iraq like, what are some of the hopes and wishes and desires of the people in Iraq? By giving the disposable cameras to the civilians, they themselves were able to photograph their friends, their neighbors, their own family and their own point of view. Just these little 10 disposable cameras are enough for me to understand that there's a huge slice of the society that I know very, very little about, with all the coverage that I've seen. So, this documentary exploration becomes one of saying, this is what our society is to us. Do not define us by explosions, by pictures of military, by pictures of insurgents. But define us by our daily lives. There's a photograph of people living in a very poor neighborhood who named their child Americas on the day of the U.S. invasion. There's a child who has a very serious medical deformity. There's a young woman who is flirtatious. There's kids going to school. There's a guy working in the street. There's people in Fallujah burying their own dead. There's a combination of very daily kinds of things and some of the more extraordinary things that happen in Iraq. When you see the guy building or carrying bricks or the boy in a schoolyard or the young woman sort of smiling, then you realize it's another society that's human and noble and wonderful. It's wonderful to have snapshots that say, forget the spectacular. Forget the shocking. Look at the everyday. And maybe that way, in fact, we'll learn more about what's going on in Iraq.ShareThis