Do a Google image search for “Iraq” and a homemade pin-up of Miss Iraq immediately comes up, second after a photograph of a man with a limb blown off. Frankly, I was prepared for the gory war documents: the pools of blood, the disfigured bodies, the mugging Marines, but a corseted woman seated on what I assume is a table draped in a lace cloth? She stares at the camera with provocative exhaustion. Almost to say, “What, you too? Come on already, let’s get this over with.”
I have to admit; I have sheltered myself from this war that keeps on going. I listen to the reports, which lately have gone missing in favor of the presidential campaign, on National Public Radio. Blissfully image free. I know the visuals are out there, I just choose not to look.
So, when a dear friend sent over photographs taken by her young husband who recently shipped out to Iraq, I was struck, rather guiltily, by their banal beauty. A photograph of portable offices protected by concrete blast shields is Kahn-ish, Marfa-like, or even Eisenmanesque. My own cultural affectations buffer me from the reality of a fortified encampment just outside Baghdad.
My friend writes that there is good news: Her husband sits behind a computer all day, so he doesn’t have leave the base. Does that mean he is safe?