When it comes to Vietnam there are so many different angles to consider – the jungles, the tracers, the ever-present war at home, Nixon and Ellsberg, the hippies and Kent State, and on and on and on and on. Perhaps the greatest tragedy – at least in terms of retrospective – may be that Hollywood eventually got its hands on Vietnam … Hollywood and big-name publishers, that is. Mass media turned Vietnam into a cautionary tale, focusing its attention on make-believe heroes and their make-believe ethics, wide panoramics fueled by napalm.
That’s where the Associated Press’s Vietnam: The Real War makes a very bold departure. The majority of photos in this exhibit do nothing to glorify what was – by all accounts – one of the most polarizing periods in modern American history. There’s death and dismemberment and enough killing-field carnage that you can actually feel your heart going numb. These are the same historic photos that originally brought the war back home – the public execution of a civilian, naked children in the street, a Vietnamese father begging his own military for first-aid. The Real War presents it all without apology, and more than anything else, it drives home the ongoing tragedy of man’s inhumanity toward fellow man. Well, that and the ugly, crimson travesty of war … a thrust that never seems to end.
(Vietnam: The Real War runs through November 30th @ Steven Kasher Gallery, Free, 521 West 23rd Street.)
Five More For The Offing:
- Cats & Girls – Paintings & Provocations by Balthus @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Free with suggested donation, through 1/12, 5th Avenue @ 82nd Street)
- American Modern featuring various artists @ The Museum of Modern Art ($25, through 1/26, 11 West 53rd Street)
- Beyond Love by Robert Indiana @ The Whitney Museum ($20 general admission, through 1/5, 945 Madison Ave @ 75th Street)
- Self-Portrait by Vivian Maier @ Howard Greenberg Gallery (Free, through 12/14, 41 East 57th Street, Suite 1406)
- Ten Years by Zoe Strauss @ The International Center of Photography ($14 general admission, through 1/19, 1133 Avenue of the Americas @ 43rd Street)