Wednesday, March 28, 2007

World’s Cruelty and Pain, Seen in an Unblinking Lens


If this were a perfect world, everybody would see the photographer James Nachtwey’s astonishing shows at the United Nations and at 401 Projects in the West Village.

Sadly, as Mr. Nachtwey knows, this isn’t a perfect world, a point he brings home in the work shown here. “Inferno,” the title of a 1999 book of the photographs he shot in Kosovo, Rwanda and other hellholes, aptly describes the horror in these two exhibitions.

For years, in Time magazine and elsewhere, he has demonstrated the good uses to which art can be put. Since 2000, he has crisscrossed Southeast Asia and Africa, documenting the resurgence of tuberculosis related to the global AIDS epidemic. (The show at the Visitors Center at the United Nations was timed to coincide with World TB Day last Saturday.) He has also photographed the war wounded in Iraq, where he himself was injured by a grenade a few years ago, and traveled with Medevac units to field hospitals and emergency rooms.


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