Info: Photo series of 10 images; archival pigment print, 46 x 66 cm. Edition of 5 + 2 AP.

Private collection, London, UK.

Exhibited: Marrakech Biennale 6, Gallery Mario Kreuzberg, NYU ISAW

Text: The work ‘Shadows’ is a series of ten digitally modified photographs from the Department of Defense Operation Iraqi Freedom archive. Each photograph is accompanied with its byline describing what was happening in the image and who took it, as a look into the language of warfare in the public domain.

In 2013, I drove through the Syrian Desert in Jordan towards the Iraq border. It would be the closest I could get to Iraq in the 25 years since fleeing.

As I was researching the journey to the Jordanian Iraqi border, I searched online for landscape images of the Al Anbar Province in Iraq. I was confronted with an overwhelming number of images of the U.S. military occupation of Iraq. Military images dominated the online presence and furthermore, were included in cultural heritage documentation as visual material.

I was compelled to reveal the beauty of the landscape as I know it, and remove the occupier. So, I digitally removed the soldiers from a selection of images from the archive, approximating the space they occupied. It soon became clear however, that I could never erase or undo what took place in the landscape, and I decided to leave the soldiers’ shadows in the earth, as an affective trace of the long shadow that war has left behind.

Each image is accompanied by a byline that provides a description as well as credits the photographer. A comment on whose narrative becomes a part of a landscape or conflict.
“U.S. Army soldiers of 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division patrol a section of Iraq’s Diyala River Valley on Dec. 27, 2008.   DoD photo by Petty Officer Walter J. Pels, U.S. Navy. (Released)”