A soldier rides a donkey in Nineveh, Iraq. 2006. (photo: Peter van Agtmael)
Magnum photographer Peter van Agtmael has received the 2012 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography. The annual grant aims to recognize a photographer who has “demonstrated an exemplary commitment to documenting the human condition in the spirit of Smith’s concerned photography and dedicated compassion.”
Last June, ISIS took Mosul, the militants painted a red Arabic ‘‘n,’’ for Nasrane, a slur, on Assyrian Christian homes. Many residents managed to escape fled to Qaraqosh, less than 20 miles east on the Nineveh Plain, a 1,500-square-mile plot of contested land that lies between Kurdistan and Iraq, Peter van Agtmael.
MODERN WARFARE IS murky. There’s nothing like the assassination of an archduke that signifies a clear beginning, or a surrender aboard a battleship to signal the end. For many in the United States, the war in Iraq appeared to end when the last soldiers left in 2011. But with the rise of the ISIS insurgency and the impending arrival of 300 U.S. troops, it’s becoming increasingly clear our involvement there is far from through.
So a photo project like Peter Van Agtmael’s book Disco Night Sept 11 seems a fitting way to capture some sort of truth about U.S. involvement in the Middle East, if not war in general. It doesn’t adhere to a strict chronological timeline, but instead tells an open-ended story that conveys the complexity and uncertainty of history still unfolding.