In Country: Soldiers' Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan
For the past five years, Karady has worked with American veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to create staged narrative photographs that depict their individual stories and address their difficulties in adjusting to civilian life. After an extensive interview process with the veteran and his/her family, Karady collaborates with the veteran to restage a chosen moment from war within the safe space of their everyday environment, often surrounded by family and friends.
The collision between or collapse of the soldier's world and the civilian world evokes the psychology of life after war, and the challenges that adjustment to the home front entails. The process of making the photograph is intended to be helpful for the veteran subject, and is conceptually related to cognitive behavioral therapy.
Each photograph takes approximately a month to produce and involves several extensive interviews (recorded), collaborative conceptualization, location scouting, producing a sketch, discussion/approval from veteran, propping, makeup, costuming, rehearsal of physical action, training local assistants, set construction, casting extras, artificial lighting and the photo shoot. The process of making the photograph culminates in a highly choreographed installation/event. There is no digital manipulation whatsoever in order to ensure the truthfulness of the staged moment and the authenticity of the veteran subject's participation.
Each large-scale color photograph is accompanied by a recounting of the veteran's story in his/her own words that has been transcribed and edited from the interviews. So far, Karady has produced fourteen photographs in the series with veterans in Nebraska, New Hampshire, upstate New York, New York City, California, Florida and Virginia and she hopes in the end to complete a series of twenty-five photographs.
Working more like a painter than a photographer, Karady's work differs from other staged narrative photographers in that she works with real people to dramatize their stories through both literal depiction and metaphorical and allegorical means.
Soldiers' Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan is intended to be published in book form, as well as to be exhibited in both fine art and public venues in order to reach two different audiences: the American public and veterans. With the completion of the series, Karady hopes to reflect the regional and ethnic makeup of the Iraq and Afghanistan veteran population.
For more information, visit:
Jennifer Karady www.jenniferkarady.com
Review, Frieze, October Issue www.frieze.com/issue/review/jennifer-karady
Feature Story, The New York Times Arts Section www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/arts/design/06veterans.html
Radio, Morning Edition, National Public Radio
Also featured on The Picture Show, NPR’s photo blog www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2010/07/02/128267052/jennifer-karady
Review, Art Practical www.artpractical.com/review/in_country/