The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. —Sun Tzu
War is hell. All wars are hell. We know this. Our grandparents knew this. Yet, we keep fighting one ridiculous war after another with no end in sight. Anymore, we barely have our troops out of one combat situation before they’re deployed somewhere else. What the fuck is wrong with us that we cannot keep our bloody hands away from war?
War is easily enough blamed on politicians who are at the beckoned call of a military industry that makes billions from serving the globe with the latest weapons. That charge has sufficient merit but politicians are elected. You and I put them there. While lobbyist may sway their vote, you and I still retain the right to send their asses home when they’re not doing what we want. Unfortunately, we’ve forgotten that responsibility and give in to the argument that tenure on The Hill gives them more power. Horseshit.
Since the election of war-mongering politicians falls into our hands, then so does the responsibility for war. We can stop this. Our problem is that we are too disconnected from the tragedies of war. We see pictures of drones, video of explosions taken from a safe distance, dusty men and women in uniform whom we proudly call heroes. What we don’t see it the disaster. We don’t get a feel for the tragedy. We aren’t aware of the human costs.
It starts with a child
This picture hit the internet yesterday and took our collective breath away.
— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) August 17, 2016
Suddenly, for some of us, the war in Syria suddenly became very personal. We see that little boy, no more than three or four years old, without parents, blood drying on the side of his face, his clothes and body caked in cement dust, his face stuck in a daze, and we fight back the tears. For anyone with compassion, we cannot tolerate children having to endure such horrors. We don’t want to see more pictures like this one. We don’t want to see pictures worse than this one.
Removing the costumes of war
So, I’m sitting here thinking, what if we had to fight wars without any uniforms? No flack vests. No camo. Nothing. Same rules apply to both sides. If you pick up a gun, or a grenade launcher, or a surface-to-air missile launcher, or strap an explosive to your chest, you have to do so naked. No hiding. Not only do we get to see who’s doing the shooting, we have to confront who it is that is being shot. No hiding.
I look at the picture of the little boy from Aleppo and cannot help but think, though, how easily influenced we are by imagery. The war in Syria isn’t new by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, it takes this picture of this little boy to being to really get our attention. Sadly, even that won’t work for long.
Then, as I continue thinking, I wonder what the response would be if the nudes we’ve shot looked like they were shot in a war zone? One of my constant frustrations, and that of many other photographers, is that too many people glamorize what we intend as art nudes. They fail to miss the message and intent in part because the pictures are too pretty, too glamorous. What if we took all that away?
What we have below are the results. No glamor. No skin softening. Nothing covered up or over. Instead, we emphasized the darker contrasts, giving the images a rougher, grittier look. Granted, I didn’t take the time to cover everyone in concrete dust. We’re just making it all too real.
Lika all those wars.
These pictures are meant to be pretty. They’re meant to remind you that wars are dirty. They’re meant to remind you that wars strip our planet of beauty. They’re meant to remind us to end the fucking wars. All of them.