Occupation: Images From Iraq

Occupation: Images From Iraq

Meaghan Haire

In the years that the United States has been involved in Iraq, there have been countless pictures and videos on the news, but even after all the exposure there is still something powerful about finding oneself in a room surrounded by 59 pictures taken by a Marine during his service in Iraq.

From August 27 through October 21, the Clifford Art Gallery in Little Hall will be holding an exhibit known as “Occupation: Benjamin Busch: Photographs from Iraq.” The exhibit is incredibly moving.

Entering the gallery one might expect to see pictures that he or she could have found on CNN or in The New York Times, but leaving the gallery one realizes how powerful and memorable the documentation of history is.

Busch, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserve Marines who spent 398 days serving in Iraq, has a way of capturing sometimes mundane and seemingly insignificant objects and giving them a meaning hard to imagine.

The personal favorite of this writer was an image entitled, “Disneyland,” which captured a young Marine with a look of confusion and wonder on his face as he looked out the windows of an abandoned Iraqi amusement park. On the window there is an Iraqi interpretation of the American Mickey Mouse icon, and next to Mickey there is a cartoon depiction of a Native American.

In the artist’s description below the image, Busch points out that this triptych depicting a Marine, Mickey Mouse, and a Native American, is all the more powerful of an image because “our own nation, America, began as an occupation of theirs [the Native Americans].”

With images ranging from Iraqi children’s sketches of American tank engines (“Two Tanks,” 2005), to pictures of Iraqi propaganda (“Taped Flag,” 2005), to images of Marines sleeping on abandoned elementary school anatomy tables (“Anatomy,” 2005), Busch portrays the side of life in Iraq that Americans are not seeing on the news.

Colgate students will also have the unique experience of getting to meet the artist and hear about his experience in Iraq and about the images that are on display in the Clifford Gallery.

Benjamin Busch is the son of a one time Colgate professor, Fred Busch.

Carol Ann Lorenz, the Senior Curator of the Clifford Art Gallery, welcomes students to come to the Humanities Colloquium reading, “Letters from the Front: Benjamin Busch on writing home from the war in Iraq” at 4:10 in the Ho Lecture Room on September 4th and then to a second opportunity meet Busch and hear about his art at the Golden Auditorium at 4:30 on September 5th.

Lorenz also wants students to know that Busch has another exhibit running concurrently with “Occupation” on the Colgate campus up the hill at the Longyear Museum of Anthropology in Alumni Hall, which showcases Busch’s exhibit, “The Art In War.”

Busch’s exhibits on campus should not to be missed. His images are incredibly meaningful and they will leave a lasting impression.

“[They] are moments that cannot occur again,” Busch described. “What I photographed there has already been repainted, burned, or discarded. I had only one chance to take a photograph of any moment there. These are the chances that I took.”