October 6, 2004
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.-The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will present "The Pain of War," an exhibition of some 60 prints, photographs and videos that address the theme of suffering associated with war. This timely show, organized by Carol Solomon Kiefer, curator of European art at the Mead, with the assistance of Erin Sullivan, graduate intern, will run from Oct. 28 until Dec. 19.
"The Pain of War" provokes viewers to ask: Why are we so captivated by images of pain and suffering? Does their incessant presence in our media-saturated world inure us to their awfulness? How do we respond emotionally, psychologically, intellectually and politically? What issues of truth, sensationalism, exploitation, aesthetics, history and memory do such images raise?
"The Pain of War" addresses issues raised by Susan Sontag's celebrated meditation Regarding the Pain of Others (2003), in which she wrote, "One can feel obliged to look at photographs that record great cruelties and crimes. One should feel obliged to think about what it means to look at them, about the capacity to actually assimilate what they show."
With works from the permanent collection of the Mead Art Museum and important loans, "The Pain of War" will present images from the 17th century to the present day, documenting atrocities from the Thirty Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, the First and Second World Wars, the Holocaust, the Vietnam War and more recent conflicts such as September 11, 2001 and the war in Iraq. Highlights will include prints by Jacques Callot, Francisco Goya, Edouard Manet, George Bellows, Käthe Kollwitz, Otto Dix, Pablo Picasso and Dinos and Jake Chapman; photographs by Robert Capa, W. Eugene Smith, Lee Miller, Larry Burrows, Joel Meyerowitz, James Nachtwey and Sebastião Salgado; and films by Mona Hatoum and Richard Levine.
Several academic departments at Amherst College are co-sponsoring related programs in conjunction with the exhibition. These programs include lectures, gallery talks, films and a panel discussion, all to be held in Stirn Auditorium. Kim Phuc, the subject of the famous 1972 Vietnam photograph of the naked young girl burned by napalm as she runs screaming from her village, and today a UNESCO Ambassador of Goodwill, will speak at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4. Noted psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, will speak on "American Survivors: Vietnam and Iraq" at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
On Nov. 11 Amherst professors Robert Bezucha (History), Lawrence Douglas (Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought), Margaret Hunt (History) and Heidi Gilpin (German) will participate in a panel discussion of "The Pain of War." Members of the Amherst faculty have written responses to the exhibited works; these responses will accompany the show.
Viewers should be advised that this exhibition contains graphic images, some of which may not suitable for children.
The Mead Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Thursday evenings until 9 p. m. More information is available on the museum's Website at www.amherst.edu/~mead or by calling the Mead Art Museum at 413/542-2335. All events are free and open to the public.