30/9/05 Baghdad Camp Slayer


The text from the MGA’s media release for the show is below. The PDF file with images and aditional information is here.




Monash Gallery of Art is pleased to present David Hempenstall: Camp Slayer.


David Hempenstall takes us on a private tour inside Camp Slayer, a US military base in Iraq. Comprising 165 unique Polaroid photographs, the series presents an elaborate record of the base established by US military units in a former Iraqi government palace and amusement complex near the Baghdad airport.


Shaune Lakin, Director of MGA writes that: “These small-scale Polaroid photographs are truly compelling. Hempenstall shocks us with his attention to detail — the small things that describe a personal response to a very harsh military environment. And as American troops withdraw from Iraq, it is a perfect time for us to consider the Coalition’s occupation of the country and its legacy.”


During 2005-06 David Hempenstall lived and worked in Camp Slayer. Working for the US State Department, he photographed mass grave sites under investigation by the Iraqi High Tribunal.


Hempenstall’s photographs of Camp Slayer were taken during his recreation time. In contrast to the heroic sensationalism that characterises many press images of Baghdad’s recent military occupation, Hempenstall’s Polaroids provide us with a perspective that is both intimate and experimental. They present a picture of the war and the occupation very different to that found in the media and in military public relations.


MGA curator Stephen Zagala says “Viewed together, this series of photographic fragments seems to allude to a bigger picture – the idea of war itself -that is both too complex and horrific to comprehend and to picture clearly.”


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