The Spectacle of War

AH64 - ©Phillip Nesmith

I am very proud to inform you that six pieces from the My Baghdad series are being brought out of storage to be part of a very powerful exhibit being put together by the splendid Empty Quarter  Gallery in Dubai, UAE.  This work has not been seen since being shown at Washington D.C.’s Irvine Contemporary in 2008.  The Spectacle Of War exhibit will include a plate that has never been publically displayed, AH64 which is shown above. The details have not yet been posted to the gallery site, so I have provided the information that was sent out as part of the galleries latest newsletter for your reading enjoyment.  This is a must see exhibit if you can get to Dubai!

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The Spectacle of War

March 14 – April 30, 2011
Opening March 14, 6-11 pm (during Art Dubai Gallery night)

‘By this time next week, sit by your TV and get ready to watch the fireworks’

Benjamin Lowy : Iraq Perspectives
Richard Mosse : Breach & The Fall
Spencer Murphy : Architects of War
Phil Nesmith : My Bagdad
Trevor Paglen : Limit-Telephotography & The Other Night Sky
US Department of Defense & the military industry

Concurrent with Art Dubai and as part of Art Week, The Empty Quarter Gallery is proud to announce our highlight show for this spring “The Spectacle of War”, presenting for the first time in the region a number of multi-published artists, whose work has been exhibited in noted international institutions such as the Tate Modern, the Vienna Secession, the SFMOMA and Musée de l’Élysée, Switzerland.

Contemporary war is presented as a post-modern spectacle, with fluid roles and changing seat orders for viewers, actors, directors and back-stage technicians alike. Visualization of the spectacle has become a vital, viral and seminal activity for all parties involved, both off-stage and on-stage. This visualization happens on different scales, uses a range of technologies, is presented from numerous viewpoints, broadcasted through competing channels, and eventually re-enacted in modern video games. One may say that modern man consumes the war as much as he is consumed by it.

In modern warfare, the camera lens has always been the predestined ‘weapon’ of choice for those tasked with the visualization of the different acts as they are played out, including the stages of preparation and the enduring aftermath of the war. This is no coincidence, if we follow Heidegger’s thinking, that ‘the fundamental event of modernity is the conquest of the world as picture’, and its decisive unfolding a battle of perspectives, ‘for the sake of which mankind brings into play the unlimited violence of the calculation, planning, and breeding of everything.’ It is within this constellation that imaging and mapping technologies have seen a viral growth since the onset of the modern age, with a network of satellites, public and secret ones, now spanning the globe.

Photography matters when it comes to war, in all its shapes, roles and technological reincarnations. The Spectacle of War testifies of this at times uncomfortable liaison by presenting several inroads into the spectacle that war has become, combining works of strategically operating artists, experimental film directors and innovative photojournalists with commercial video games based on the Iraq war and material culled from the military and its corporate arms manufacturers itself. Together with visions of near-future deployment of unmanned vehicles, exoskeletons or nanobots, they might be the closest we can come to drawing up a map of the battleground on which our wars are fought.


To see the exhibit information posting at gallery’s website, including the images for all of the photographers, click HERE.


~ by Phil Nesmith on February 12, 2011.

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