War Photography at DOX Art Center in Prague

If you saw this in a normal day, what would you think?

Look in the center left of the picture- there are mechanical legs kicking back and forth as if a person is stuck in that wall.

Strange? Yes.

But this is the view that sets the tone from the coffee shop inside of Prague’s DOX modern art museum. (It’s not that unexpected from artist David Černý.) You can see it’s a lovely place to sit in weather that isn’t snowy, in the shade of a gigantic Zeppelin which imposes itself on the roof.

And so I sat here with a cappuccino, not wanting yet to venture out again into the cold, contemplating the many exhibits I’d seen.

One was a poster gallery commemorating the 100 years since the Russian Revolution. Not all of them were so scary, but they were all very interesting to look at, and included designs from artists all over the world.

The exhibit “Reconstruction of Memory” traced the journey of those Ukrainians escaping the Russian occupation of Crimea. Three years later, these refugees settle down in their new homes and reflect on their experience of a home which is gone.

Ukrainian homes innovatively reconstructed through photographs, while films of the refugees’ stories play in the background:

The exhibit “Před Očima” showed photos of contemporary Iraq in scenes of daily life as touched and untouched by the ongoing war and unrest.

It contextualized the exhibit with two walls full of overlapping news articles referencing the war in many European languages, as well as a map of the region.

Here is a sample of what you can see; for example, the difficult lives of border smugglers (which is the only way to make a living in some areas), as well as the documenting of normal daily life from the 60s-80s by a photographer who was killed in a diplomatic conflict:

Perhaps most devastating was the documenting and recounting of the tales of Yazidi women who suffered the murder of their families, kidnapping, beatings and rape by ISIS insurgents, and escaped.

They were photographed in traditional wedding garb to provide a contrast with the horrific situations which they’ve endured.

The exhibit(s) were an emotional smack in the face that we go around complaining about the little things while there are people in the world who are facing the most brutal of realities. Because of this, I am trying to be thankful every day for my sheer luck. We need to do everything we can in our daily lives to dampen words and actions of hatred that perpetuate such cruelty and radicalism in the world.

It was devastating to see the contrast between contemporary and past Iraq, which from the 60s-80s photographs was a modern, functional country where people picnicked with their families and took trips into beautiful, rolling green hills. There was a time that this country was safe and enjoyed by its people. I hope I’ll see peace in my lifetime.


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