“I got blown up.” That’s what they say. “I was right there in the blast seat.” Blast force—the signature injury of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan—creates a pressure so powerful it can be seen before it is heard or felt. Soldiers remember confusion, deafness, slowdown, the feeling of being squashed. Positive and negative pressure waves roll through the body, shattering nerve pathways. And the soldier is never the same. They say they feel “crazy:” hyper-vigilant, sleepless, suicidal. They have language and hearing problems, memory loss and migraines. They anger easily. They abuse alcohol and drugs. Wives and lovers leave them, and their children fear them. Soldiers long for a missing arm, leg, eye—a visible wound that would command respect and understanding. The veterans in these photographs—Aaron, Bo, Chris, Perry, Tiffany and Maj. Jeff Hall—found help at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, a Department of Defense institute that serves some of the 360,000 men and women damaged by blast force injuries. In addition to receiving sophisticated imaging and care from physicians and therapists, soldiers make masks. Making art cracks open the trauma and then knits the brain. The masks, like MRIs of their psyches, make the scars of blast force visible, a first step to healing.
Co-Winner of The Fence 2015 Jury’s Choice Prize.
Lynn Johnson photographs the human condition. A regular contributor to National Geographic, she is known for finding beauty and meaning in elusive, difficult subjects—threatened languages, zoonotic disease, rape in the military ranks, the centrality of water in village life, mysteries of the brain. Hate Kills, her master’s thesis as a Knight Fellow at Ohio University, probed the impact of hate crimes. At National Geographic Photo Camps, she helps at-risk youth find their creative voices. And at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, she developed and teaches a program that challenges master’s students to push past their comfort levels in pursuit of their stories’ truth. She herself is committed to that search frame by frame. Johnson has worked for LIFE and Sports Illustrated and published 36 feature stories in National Geographic Magazine. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Robert F. Kennedy Award and Pulitzer finalist on two occasions.
United Photo Industries (UPI) is a New York based nonprofit organization that works to promote a wider understanding of, and increased access to, the art of photography.
Since its founding in 2011, UPI has rapidly solidified its position in the public art landscape by continuing to showcase thought-provoking, challenging, and exceptional photography from across the globe. In its first seven years, UPI has presented the work of more than 2,500 visual artists in gallery exhibitions and public art installations worldwide.
Blast Force Survivors
Featuring: Lynn Johnson
LocationsView Location Details Download a detailed map of this location Brooklyn Bridge Park – Emily Warren Roebling Plaza
1 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
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