PHOTOS: Two photos from the Ghosts in the Landscape: Vietnam Revisited, an exhibition of 46 prints by photographer and ex-combat marine Craig J. Barber.
The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Museum and Educational Center presents Ghosts in the Landscape: Vietnam Revisited, an exhibition of 46 prints by photographer and ex-combat marine Craig J. Barber, on view September through November. The exhibit is on loan from the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY.
Barber spent 20 months in Vietnam as a teenager and returned three times to traverse many of his former military routes with an 8x10 pinhole camera. His return to the land where he once fought resulted in a dreamlike and introspective study of place.
"Memory runs deep in my veins as I wind my way along narrow dirt paths and bamboo groves, past straw houses and barking dogs," said Barber. "More than once, as I wander the small hamlets, I have felt on patrol, the weight of my pack reminiscent of those days and the tripod feeling like a weapon. But now I am searching for images instead of 'Charlie.'"
In 1995 Barber first revisited the battered and distant country where he had come of age, returning twice more over four years. His photographs take us toward some other Vietnam, far and near from the place we have pictured for many years. The majority of the exhibition's images are platinum prints, created by Barber, who is an accomplished platinum printer. The tonality of the platinum process produces stunningly rich blacks and a full spectrum of delicately nuanced shades of gray. Barber created diptych and triptych panorama images that capture serene beauty and, at times, for him, the all-too memorable landscapes.
"These profound and dreamlike photographs are far from the horrific images we carry inside us that reduce Vietnam to a place of perpetual guerilla war," said Dr. Alison Nordström, George Eastman House's curator of photographs. "These pictures look like dreams imperfectly remembered. Still and slow as they are, they suggest an imminent scream of fear or anger beneath an apparent tranquility."
When stationed in Vietnam, Barber was not a serious photographer, but carried an instamatic with his combat gear throughout his tour of duty. His career as a photographer blossomed in the 1970s and took off in the 1980s. Today he is best known for his provocative landscape photographs and is recognized as one of America's premiere landscape photographers. His work has been featured in more than 60 solo exhibitions and is represented in numerous collections including George Eastman House, Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris. A native of Honeoye Falls, N.Y., Barber lives in the Hudson Valley and teaches photograph workshops throughout the United States and Europe.
Accompanying the exhibition is a 60-page catalogue of the same title, with an essay by Nordström (Umbrage Editions, 2006).
The Foundation operates and manages the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial and the adjacent Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center located at 1 Memorial Lane off Exit 116 (PNC Bank Arts Center) in Holmdel, NJ. The Memorial honors all those who served our country and state during the Vietnam War, especially the 1,563 New Jerseyans who did not return home. It is a powerful and fitting tribute to their sacrifice. The Memorial is open 24 hours, seven days a week. The Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center is the first educational center and museum of its kind in the United States. Dedicated in September 1998, the Museum is devoted solely to gaining an understanding of the conflict in Southeast Asia and the surrounding political strife in America.