By Louie Palu
The photographs in this installation were taken in 2008 at a small combat outpost in Garmsir District located in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. I feel like my role in the world is to put a human face to statistics and issues. I made these photographs partly as a response to Joe Rosenthal’s famous World War Two photograph of the flag raising at Iwo Jima, which for me makes all the marines anonymous. I wanted these photographs to be personal so you know who they are, their age and where they were from. I also wanted portraits that looked out at you and were confrontational, so you had to face them.
These marines belong to the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines (1/6). In 1917, 100 years ago the 1/6 was first activated to fight in the First World War in France. They fought in many battles including one in a wooded area known as the Battle of Belleau Wood. I thought what might be good for all of us is to have these images exist in a similar but peaceful public space where as a community we could all quietly gather and reflect on what war is for each of us and how it affects us all. The 1/6 Marines are currently based at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
“The arts are an important way we can express ourselves when it’s difficult to talk about our experiences.”
– Sergeant Clifford McMahon UNC Class of 2021
About the Artist
Louie is an award winning documentary photographer and filmmaker who is well known for work which examines social political issues such as human rights, conflict and poverty. He is a 2016 John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow and is the recipient of numerous honors including awards from Pictures of the Year International, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting Grant and an Alexia Foundation Grant. He has covered three wars in the past 10-years including Afghanistan, Mexican drug war and Ukraine. His work has been exhibited and is held in numerous collections including the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and Museum of Fine Arts Boston. His work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, The New York Times and TIME.
More on his work can be seen here: