Vietnam: The Real War
A Photographic History from the Associate Press
Beyond the War: Leo Rubinfien
Seven Photographs from Southeast Asia 1984 - 1987
Exhibition Dates: October 24 - November 30
Opening Reception & Book Signing
with Pete Hamill and Nick Ut
Thursday, October 24
6:00 - 8:00 pm
This dual exhibition raises the stories not only from a dark moment in history but, as the Steven Kasher Gallery describes it, "the war that has left a deep scar on the world." The Real War is a selection of images from the Saigon bureau of the Associated Press, which at the time was the most significant news service documenting the Vietnam War. These images cut us as quickly now as they did in the days they were made. Sentiments are raw in these frames and feelings are visceral. We see terror in the eyes and on the faces of Horst Faas's Women and Children Crouch in a Muddy Canal as they Take Cover from Intense Viet Cong Fire; feel the pierce of pure loss and grief in his A Woman Mourns Over the Body of her Husband After Identifying him by his Teeth, and Covering his Head with her Conical Hat and; anguish in Hugh Van Es', A U.S. Paratrooper Wounded in the Battle for Hamburger Hill Grimaces in Pain as he Awaits Medical Evacuation at Base Camp Near the Laotian Border.
With the passage of time we find it is somewhat easier to linger in these images; some displacement has occurred, but the images remain urgent and difficult to take. In this space and moment we find a new power in the work. The tension that emerges between the rawness of the subject and their legacy gives them renewed strength. One would hope this may translate into a more universal reading of their content and desire to eradicate war globally. Certainly we hope for this as we move towards other works, arguably some of the most identifiable Vietnam images including Eddie Adams' Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan, South Vietnamese Chief of the National Police, Fires his Pistol into the Head of Suspected Viet Cong Official Nguyen Van Lem on a Saigon Street Early in the Tet Offensive; Malcolm Browne's Buddhist Monk, Thich Quang Duc Burns Himself to Death on a Saigon Street to Protest Persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese Government; and Nick Ut's Severely Burned in an Aerial Napalm Attack, Children Run Screaming for Help Down Route 1 Near Trang Bang, Followed by Soldiers of the South Vietnamese Army's 25th Division.
As generations age the stories that accompany these images carry more and more weight as a legacy of memory entangles and invests them. The baggage around these images is heavy, and the scar of the War weighs on us. This is where the duality of the exhibition adds to the delicate balance and handling of the subject. Steven Kasher Gallery was thoughtful to couple the Associated Press images with works by Leo Rubinfien taken after the War between 1984-1987.
Rubinfien's images are of a different Southeast Asia; they are full of as much vibrance and life as they are with scars of war. There is a sense of active healing. While we find the ruins of a home, a tank, and gun tower they are skeletal and abandoned. They are what remains to remind us of what is past, but they are not themselves current. We see life pushing back through devastation. More importantly we see scenes from daily life- bar girls on an evening out, children at play, and a hand in carefree motion against a street scene as if enjoying the breeze of a simple day. These works add levity and hope to the mix of emotions stirred by these riveting shows.
For more information on these exhibitions and related events please visit Steven Kasher Gallery