Monday, September 9, 2013

Eleven Women Facing War

Calgary Military Museum

Although not particularly enamored by war itself, I always enjoy war museums. I enjoyed the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, and spent a wonderful day a few years ago exploring a now closed storage facility full of old military vehicles. I noticed that Calgary had a large Military Museum during a drive, and I asked Gordon if he would take me there.

Unfortunately, this museum was not that good. It started out well, with a happy gentleman at the desk greeting us with good humour and jokes, but closed halls, displays without signage, and many displays under repair or renovation meant I was generally disappointed in the museum. There were many good interesting displays, but the missing bits definitely detracted from the overall visit to the museum.

There was however an amazing exhibition in the Art Gallery. I was expecting painting of planes, ships and perhaps famous battles. That was not what I found. The Gallery was featuring a special exhibition entitled Eleven Women Facing War. This was an incredible display. I spent more time here than I did examining tanks and airplanes.

Eleven Women Facing War
In 2001, Nick Danziger created eleven portraits of women and girls affected by conflicts in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Colombia, Israel Palestine and Sierra Leone. From 2008 to 2011 he worked to reconnect with these women again and document how their lives had changed. The photos from 2001 are in Black & White and the later photos are in colour. The stories are really worth viewing. In one he interviews and photographs a woman from Sierra Leone who had both her hands cut off when she was caught in the combat zone. She faced many hardships and was negative and down about her prospects, but Nick located her in Toronto Canada and she is doing extremely well, and has published a book about her experiences. Unfortunately all the stories do not end this happy, and the opposite extreme was on one wall which did not have any coloured pictures. It was about a 10 year old Afghanistan girl who's mother had died in childbirth, and when her dad went to find food, he never returned. She was left to care for and provide for her two younger brothers, Her's was a sad story in the black and white photos, but when Nick tried to find her for the later photos, he could not locate her, and the rumour was that she had died soon after he had originally taken her pictures.

This is an exhibition that is well worth seeing. You cannot help but be affected by these stories. Luckily you do not have to travel to Calgary to see it; it was a traveling show, and the Canadian War Museum has the show on their website from when it was featured in our nation's capital. I encourage you to check it out. If the following link does not work, just search for the title.

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