From Baghdad Journal
New York artist Steve Mumford traveled to Baghdad four times in 2003 and 2004 following the American invasion, and his on-the-spot drawings and paintings vividly capture everyday life for both Iraqis and Americans during the drama and the downtime of a country in turmoil. Here are three paintings from his book, with Mumford's own comments on his subjects:
| || ||Street sweepers in Baghdad. Hundreds of students were hired by the Coalition Provisional Authority in August 2003 to tackle Baghdad's massive trash problem since the invasion. || |
| || ||Inside a Paladin: One night the base was attacked with 20 mortar rounds, and the artillery crews fired back. Staff Sgt. Diego Jimenez aimed the rounds, which Sgt. Narciso Martinez set and Pfc. Javier Vasquez fired. || |
| || ||Capt. Hector Maldonado talking with a Shi'ite imam after the arrest of another imam for inciting violence. Annoyed at being given a warning, at one point the imam tried to take [Mumford's] drawing away. Posters of Muqtada Sadr decorated the columns. || |
From Publishers Weekly
With countless war accounts already in from Iraq, it's refreshing to get this dispatch told, from the perspective not of a journalist or a photographer, but of an artist. Mumford, a New York City painter, first arrived in Baghdad in April of 2003 and spent about a year there, and in other cities, accompanying U.S. troops on patrols, raids and combat missions. But the most arresting images in this illustrated journal come from his more mundane interactions: with people in cafés, at a meeting with a local imam, at a galley favored by local Baghdad artists. Mumford writes that, for him, "the act of drawing slowed down the war, recording the spaces in between the bombs," and it is through these spaces, the day-to-day of life in a country where life runs minute-to-minute, that Iraq and its war become illuminated in a way that we rarely see. At first glance Mumford's watercolors carry something of the hasty urgency of courtroom art, but this impression is soon belied by the images' depth of feeling and nuance. Accompanying the watercolors are passages from his journal, written in a lucid and reflective style that perfectly matches these quiet spaces pushing out at the surrounding chaos. His is a remarkable document.
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