Manchester, N.H. – On September 11, 2001, award-winning photojournalist James Nachtwey saw the attacks on the Twin Towers from his apartment in lower Manhattan, just a short distance away. While others raced away from the crumbling towers, Nachtwey ran toward them with his camera. His photographs are among the most iconic and compelling visual accounts we have of that day. Many of those images, along with pictures he took in Afghanistan and Iraq in the years surrounding the attacks on the World Trade Center, will be the focus of the exhibition Witness to History: James Nachtwey—Afghanistan, Ground Zero, Iraq, on view at the Currier Museum of Art from September 11 through December 14, 2015.
The exhibition will reveal war's tragic effect on combatants and civilians, and includes highly personal images of American troops and their families, as well as photographs of Iraqi and Afghani civilians and their families. The Currier worked directly with Nachtwey to acquire 17 of the 24 photographs in the main area of the exhibition.
“James Nachtwey’s photographs have been the standard-bearers for documentary photography for more than 30 years,” said Kurt Sundstrom, exhibition curator. “While most war photography exhibitions focus on combat photography, Witness to History reminds everyone of the struggles our troops face when they come back to the States. His photographs have the capacity to change a stubborn mind, open a closed heart and motivate the indifferent.”
About the Exhibition
The main area of the exhibition unfolds chronologically in five parts: Afghanistan, 9/11 New York City, post-9/11 Afghanistan, the Iraqi war and Nachtwey’s photographs of American soldiers and their families coping with the physical and psychological aftermath of war. While most of the images have appeared in mass circulation publications such as Time and National Geographic, this will be the first time so many of Nachtwey’s works have been displayed in large format, each image approximately 30” x 40”. In all, there will be 24 photographs in the main area of the exhibition.
A separate room will contain Nachtwey’s monumental 32’ long photo mosaic, The Sacrifice (negatives, 2006-7; print, 2015). These images, taken in American military medical units in Iraq, tell stories of life and death in the aftermath of battle. While often unsettling, the images bring home the realities of war to a country that mostly received sanitized versions of the conflict from embedded reporters. The title, The Sacrifice, confronts viewers with the human cost of war. The mosaic is made up of three rows of images, each containing 20 photographs.
Nachtwey worked exclusively with one of America’s premiere digital printers, Cone Editions of Topsham, Vermont, to print the photographs in this exhibition.
The Currier has reached out to several local communities in order to inform the interpretation within the exhibition. We are indebted to our Veterans’ Advisory Committee, which worked with us on our Vietnam exhibition in 2013, and members of the local Iraqi community, for adding their perspectives to the photographs on view.
Museum admission during the opening weekend of the exhibition (Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 13) will be free.
About James Nachtwey
NH resident James Nachtwey (born 1948) graduated from Dartmouth College in 1970 and began his career as a documentary photographer in 1980. Since then, he has photographed numerous historical events including the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, the war in Chechnya, civil unrest in Northern Ireland, the genocide in Rwanda, the liberation struggle in South Africa and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Some of Nachtwey’s most compelling and poignant work is on view this exhibition, including images of the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York City, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the challenges faced by American soldiers returning from these wars.
Nachtwey’s photographs have been featured in numerous books, scholarly articles and regularly appear in international magazines including Der Spiegel, National Geographic and Time. He has received numerous prizes and awards including the World Press Photo Award (twice), Magazine Photographer of the Year (seven times) and the Overseas Press Club's Robert Capa Gold Medal an unprecedented five times. Nachtwey received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors. His work has also made the rare leap into the art world, having appeared in countless one person and group shows in museums worldwide.
Witness to History: James Nachtwey—Afghanistan, Ground Zero, Iraq is sponsored by the Botnick Family Foundation, M. Christine Dwyer & Michael Huxtable, Dorothea & David Jensen, Nike & David Speltz, Camera Commons LLC, and Eleanor Briggs.
Share Your Photos
Do you have images of NYC from before, during and after 9/11? Did you serve in the current conflict and have images to share? Are you a refugee from a place of war and would like to share an image or story about coming to the United States or what your home was like? Please add your photos and stories to the exhibition by bringing copies of photos (originals will not be returned) and a 50-word caption with you during your next visit or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free Admission Weekend
Friday, September 11-Sunday, September 13
In remembrance of all who died on 9/11 and in conflicts overseas, the Museum is offering free admission this weekend. Come reflect and explore the exhibition, Witness to History: James Nachtwey–Afghanistan, Ground Zero, Iraq.
Creative Studio: Celebrating Heroes
Saturday, September 12, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
Participate in a unique activity that recognizes heroes. Adults and children are welcome and encouraged to drop by one of the Museum’s classrooms to participate. This program is part of our free admission weekend.
Film Screening: War Photographer
Sunday, September 13, 2 p.m.
The Currier will screen the Academy Award-nominated documentary, War Photographer. The documentary follows James Nachtwey, who has chronicled combat in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Kosovo, genocide in Rwanda and the events of September 11, 2001 in New York City. This program is part of our free admission
Witness to History: James Nachtwey—Afghanistan, Ground Zero, Iraq Tour
Sunday, September 20, 2 p.m.
In celebration of Monday’s International Day of Peace, we invite you to join a docent-led exhibition tour. Stay afterward to enjoy lunch in the Winter Garden Café and
continue the conversation with one other.
Community Conversation: Life After Wartime
Saturdays: October 17, at 2 p.m.
Join us for an important conversation about the impact that war has on service members. A wide range of topics will be discussed, from physical injuries to the impact of war on families. Continue the conversation afterward in the Community Gallery as we celebrate works of art by children of service members. Light refreshments will be
ARTalk: Photojournalists James Nachtwey and Greg Marinovich in Conversation
Wednesday, October 28, at 6:30 p.m. (galleries will open at 5:30 p.m.)
Award-winning photographer, James Nachtwey, and Pulitzer Prize winner, Greg Marinovich, will engage in a lively discussion covering a range of topics, from their challenging experiences documenting human conflict to what motivates them to pursue and record historic events around the world. The program will be free for Members, $10 Non-Members, $3 Students. Visit CURRIER.ORG/tickets to purchase tickets.
In Perspective: Growing up in Afghanistan
Sunday, November 8, 2 p.m.
Qais Akbar Omar, author of A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story, will discuss his experiences growing up in Afghanistan. Hear about the daily hardships and the moments of joy and beauty that he found as his family was forced to move due to
Super Saturday: Freedom in Art
Saturday, November 14, 10 a.m. –1 p.m.
Enjoy a unique performance by Hardtacks that brings American history to life
through song (11 a.m.-noon). Create holiday cards for troops serving overseas. All letters will be delivered by Operation Care for Troops, a Nashua-based organization that strives to make deployment easier. Adults and children are welcome and encouraged to drop by one of the Museum's studio spaces to participate.
Witness to History: James Nachtwey—Afghanistan, Ground Zero, Iraq Tour
Saturday, November 28, 11:30 a.m.
Participate in a docent-led tour of the exhibition. This post-Thanksgiving activity will help remind you of all you have to be grateful for. Stay afterward to enjoy lunch in the Winter Garden Café and continue the conversation with each other.
The Currier Museum of Art, located at 150 Ash Street, Manchester, N.H., is open every day except Tuesday. It is home to an internationally respected collection of European and American paintings, decorative arts, photographs and sculpture, including works by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and O'Keeffe. Visitors of all ages will enjoy the engaging exhibitions, the dynamic programs ranging from art-making and lectures to music, a Museum Shop, and an airy, light-filled café. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the Museum. The Currier welcomes visitors with disabilities and special needs. We are wheelchair accessible and offer FM headsets for sound amplification at many public programs. For more information, visit www.currier.org or call 603.669.6144, x108.
The Currier Art Center offers studio classes, art camps, Master classes and intensive workshops for all ages. The Museum also owns the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Zimmerman House, complete with the original furnishings and the owners' fine art collection.