A new exhibit of images from the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, captured by some of the world’s leading combat photographers and journalists, is on display at the S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.
While many of the 65 photographs focus on soldiers and combat, many reflect how average Iraqis and Afghanis go about their daily lives despite the combat around them.
In one photograph, a young couple rides in a bumper car at an amusement park in Basra in southern Iraq called Basraland. “You don’t think about there being amusement parks in war zones,” said the Relic Room’s Jami Boone. “That’s what is special about this exhibit, seeing the other side.”
“Conflict Zone: A Groundbreaking Look at War,” which opened earlier this month, will be on display through Feb. 23. The traveling exhibit is a project of the Independence Fund, a Beaufort-based nonprofit that serves severely injured soldiers and their families once they return home from war with serious physical or emotional wounds.
The exhibit was assembled by Vietnam veteran Jerry Kykisz, curator of the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago. It was inspired by Joao Silva, the New York Times photographer who lost both legs after he stepped on a land mine in 2010 in Afghanistan, and is dedicated to Chris Hondros, the Getty Images photographer who died on assignment in Libya in April 2011.
“Conflict Zone is a trip into the heart of war,” Kykisz said in a news release. “The subject is not merely about killing and dying but about life beating the odds one more time, surviving another night. The photographers in this collection risked life and limb to bring these images before the conscience of the public.”
In addition to examining the daily lives of those living in war zones, the exhibit includes stark images of combat and its aftermath – wounded and fallen soldiers, Iraqi and Afghan children and war widows. The 22 photographers include Pulitzer Prize-winner Greg Marinovich, former Washington Post reporter Andrea Bruce and Marine Corps reservist Joel Chaverri. The exhibit also features a seven-minute video of a battle in Afghanistan shot and produced by Jeff Newton of CBS.
Founded in 1896, the S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is the oldest museum in the Columbia area. The museum focuses on South Carolina’s military history from the Revolutionary War to the present.