© Anton Kratochvil, from the series 'Homage to ABu Ghraib' (2006)

© Anton Kratochvil, from the series 'Homage to Abu Ghraib' (2006)

It may not be wise to question a photography project that was conceived of, and produced, in honour of the photographer’s father who was tortured in Stalinist labour camps.

But, is not Anton Kratochvil’s Homage to Abu Ghraib obsolete?

Kratochvil spoke at this weeks photo expo.

In reaction to a New York Times story that stated 80 percent of Americans had not heard of Abu Ghraib, Kratochvil created a series of set-up photographs that drew on the Abu Ghraib images as inspiration.

The work was published on the VII web site, where it was seen and then distributed virally. The work was unpublished in a traditional sense, “yet it created an uproar,” Kratochvil said. Mayes said the traditional media channels were “nonplussed” when they were offered the opportunity to publish the work. Kratochvil said the story was “not news but not fiction,” but it found an audience nonetheless.

We can presume that everyone who saw and then virally-forwarded these images knew already about Abu Ghraib. I can’t imagine that this series converted new recruits into the anti-war mindset or lured them into new emotional responses to the horrors of the War On Iraq or of Saddam’s primary prison/death-house.

Saddam Hussein’s ordered rushed and final hour executions of some opponents and turned others loose. Then the American Military moved in. Kratochvil’s images contain disconcerting echoes of US abuses at Abu Ghraib, but those echoes are insufficient, even unnecessary, in the context of the original images.

Only the personal catharsis and healing this series may or may not have provided Kratochvil could stand as basis for a discussion of worth here. And that, still, does not alter my personal opinion that this “homage” is misplaced at best, derisory at worst.

More here