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IRAQ The Space Between - exhibition at Artland

Phil Hamer an astonishing exhibition of Iraq war photography from the impressive Christoph Bangert

Published on February 5th 2009.

IRAQ The Space Between - exhibition at Artland

In 2005 and 2006 Iraq was the most dangerous country in the world and as a result was too dangerous to work in for all but the most insane or courageous of journalists and war photographers.

There was no deterring photographer Christoph Bangert though. Fulfilling a commission for The New York Times he took four trips to Iraq in nine months. The remarkable selection of photographs from those visits are currently displayed in Manchester’s Artland Gallery entitled Iraq, The Space Between. Still only 30, it’s difficult to believe that Bangert is already a veteran of several conflicts from Palestine to Afghanistan.

Artland is a small but potent new space and especially well suited to a powerful and compelling exhibition.

I was especially fortunate in meeting up with Christoph Bangert who was in the city for his exhibition’s launch. He makes no apologies for the high octane, colour-filled nature of his work. Not for him the spare and stark black and white war photography of the pioneering Robert Capa or Don McCullin, “As much as I admire them they took a different type of photograph from myself,” he says.

As I view his work our conversation ranges from the role of the outsider as an observer - Bangert is German born and his native country is forbidden by its own post war constitution from taking part in such a conflict as the invasion of Iraq - to the role of the photographer in any conflict.

The exhibition’s title refers to the spaces located in so many of Bangert’s photographs. This he compares to the potency of the silences between the notes in Beethoven’s music. He doesn’t accept that he’s been particularly brave: “You have to realise that I can hop on a plane at any time and leave but the people caught up in the war can’t. Neither can the soldiers.”

The photographs are displayed without notes so the detailed four- page sheet accompanying them is especially valuable. There are some extremely disturbing images that no other media has offered us on the Iraq conflict. I warn you now that they will not be easily erased from your mind.

For instance, there’s a dead man on a rubbish dump. His hands are bound and he’s been shot in the head. His remains have been partially eaten by scavenging dogs

‘Dozens of bodies like this are found every morning all over Baghdad, most of the dead are victims of sectarian violence,’ the notes tell us. I don’t think Bush or Blair will be choosing this photograph to grace the walls of their new homes.

Bangert is not really satisfied with any media’s coverage of the Iraq invasion, “so much has veered into propaganda.” It comes as no surprise that he has formed a pessimistic interpretation of man’s inhumanity to man after what he has seen during his brief but eventful photographer’s life.As we part, we agree, though, to hope that the best aspects of human nature will endure.

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Artland GalleryFebruary 5th 2009.

We would like to invite you back to Artland Gallery for our Summer Art Sale. There are some beautiful and original pieces of art to purchase from local and international artists at very reasonable prices. 10% of all sales will be donated to Manchester Aid to Kosovo towards the completion of the Manchester Peace Park in Podujevë, Kosovo. Opening times for the month of June remain as follows: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat: 11am-4pm, Thu: 2pm-5pm, after hours appointments available on request.Yours sincerely,Artland Gallery

T BatesFebruary 5th 2009.

Artland is doing excellent stuff. This is one of the best and most moving exhibitions I've been to for a while. And good on you for covering it.

Artland GalleryFebruary 5th 2009.

Hi there,The exhibition runs until March 14th, 2009. Our opening times are as follows:Tue, Wed, Fri & Sat 11-4, Thu 2-5.We are closed on Sundays and Mondays.We hope to see you soon!Artland Gallery

rosieFebruary 5th 2009.

Iraq is a much more dangerous place for women since the "liberation". Same with Afghanistan.Hope George and Tony think it was all worthwhile.

SteFebruary 5th 2009.

Fact: Iraq became the most dangerous country on earth in 2005 and 2006 because of the power vacume and rampant lawlessness created by the incompetence of western leaders in the planning of the post invasion situation.

ChrisFebruary 5th 2009.

When does this exhibition run til?

A RealistFebruary 5th 2009.

Yep enjoyed it.

JamesFebruary 5th 2009.

Are you really a realist or is that your name: Anthony Realist or something? The shows looks intersting though, I'll be down.

NickFebruary 5th 2009.

Quote: ‘Dozens of bodies like this are found every morning all over Baghdad, most of the dead are victims of sectarian violence,’ the notes tell us. I don’t think Bush or Blair will be choosing this photograph to grace the walls of their new homes."What are you trying to say? That it's the fault of western leaders that different sects of Islam kill each other? Bollocks.

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