Soldiers’ Stories From Iraq and Afghanistan: The Artist’s Process @ FIFA

Though we think of soldiers as heroes while they are fighting as soon as they come back to rejoin civilian life it is like we would like to completely forget about them. Very little support is offered to veterans like we have gotten what we need from them then think it is okay to just discard them. We need to remember the incredible sacrifice we have asked of them. That we have to do better once they return to life.

Artist/photographer Jennifer Karady is interested in depicting the stories of American veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. For seven years she has been photographing them. Photos which tell their stories and the problems they have once they return home. Problems adjusting to civilian life.

They build a relationship. Trust her so much that they tell her about some awful experiences they endured during war. Once they are comfortable enough Jennifer recreates what they have told her about with their friends and family around to see it. This type of cognitive behavioural therapy is reputed to be good for the returned soldiers.

Making these photos takes anywhere between one to three months. It is a process. Then the recreation happens. The combination of the photo along with the soldiers’ stories gives the viewer a chance to understand the tip of the iceberg of what they go through.

A big part of a short film like this is giving a voice to the soldiers. Using portraiture to really tell a story. A real story. Showing in a visual way the effects of war. Even when it is over. When someone is no longer fighting. This is tricky with its level of intimacy. You really see the hearts, minds and souls of these men and women who have sacrificed much. They, who have become invisible because they make us uncomfortable, are given a voice. Hopefully it brings about understanding and further help for returning soldiers.

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