Hallie Ford exhibit will show the war in Southeast Asia through the
eyes of photographers who died there
By Barbara Curtin
August 9, 2009
The Hallie Ford Museum of Art opens a new exhibit on Saturday:
"Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina."
It is a memorial to the 135 photographers killed covering the war on
both sides. They represent 11 nationalities, including American,
British, German, Japanese, Vietnamese and Cambodian. In many cases,
the photos were taken moments before the photographer died.
Richard Pyle, who was The Associated Press Bureau chief in Saigon
from 1970 to 1973, said the exhibit is a must-see "because it's
history. Everyone needs to understand history. The Vietnam War was
one of the most powerful events impacting American society in our
time. It was not in most people's minds a good war."
Pyle will be in Salem Sept. 11 to share his recollections of
photographers in the show, some of whom were close personal friends
as well as colleagues.
"The fact that the exhibit features pictures only by photographers
killed in the war gives it special meaning," he said. "These guys on
both sides all died to take these pictures. That raises interesting questions."
The exhibit began as a book by the same name, published in 1997 by
photographers Horst Faas and Tim Page. They decided to show
photographs by famous names, such as Robert Capa and Larry Burrows,
alongside those of unknowns who had shot only a roll or two before
losing their lives. The authors also tracked down images by
photographers from the communists' side, who often had to fight as
well as shoot film and develop it under primitive conditions.
The show is on tour from the George Eastman House/International
Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, N.Y. This is its first
stop in the Pacific Northwest.
Hallie Ford visitors will see 161 prints grouped in chronological
stages. Pastoral scenes of 1950s Indo-China give way to French
soldiers fighting communists. American advisers take their place, and
the war escalates. The color photographs of Larry Burrows, widely
published in Life magazine, bring the war to the wide awareness of
Americans in the 1960s.
Photos of weary G.I.s on one hand and terrified Vietnamese and
Cambodian civilians on the other give a sense of the human cost of
the seemingly unwinnable war. After the U.S. withdraws, the North
Vietnamese seize Saigon in 1974. "Requiem," the final wall, shows the
faces and biographies of the men, and a few women, who have captured
these scenes on film.
Traditional Vietnamese music will play in the background.
"It's very quiet and tranquil, in contrast to the images in the
show," said John Olbrantz, the museum's director, who bought the CDs
online. "It will be barely audible, kind of like a memory."
The museum will build on the show through a series of talks, films
and a play, "War Stories: 'Nam."
"I've seen this performance once before, and it's absolutely
riveting," Olbrantz said. "It will move people to tears."
Education Curator Elizabeth Garrison will give workshops for
teachers, and the museum is encouraging high school social studies
classes to visit.
However, Olbrantz said, "Some of the images are graphic, and we'll
have a statement at the beginning of the exhibit saying that it may
not be appropriate for young children."
Dickey Chapelle, USA
Chapelle was a woman photographer in a man's world. Of her many
awards, she was proudest of her Distinguished Service Award from the
U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association. She was injured
by an exploding land mine on Nov. 4, 1965; she died on her way to the
hospital near Chu Lai, Vietnam.
Larry Burrows, Britain
Larry Burrows began working in Life magazine's London photo lab at
16, fetching cups of hot tea. He moved up to cover celebrities and
wars for Life. He was known for going to the front to find the
action. He also would put aside his camera to save a life if
necessary. He died with three colleagues on Feb. 10, 1971, when the
pilot of their helicopter drifted over Laos, where the craft was shot down.
Robert Capa, USA
Capa jumped into Sicily with U.S. paratroopers in World War II and
stormed Normandy with the first wave on D-Day. He skipped the Korean
War but took a Life magazine assignment to cover Vietnam. He was
killed by a land mine near Thai Binh in North VIetnam in 1954.
Kyoichi Sawada, Japan
Sawada was unable to convince United Press International to reassign
him from a Tokyo desk job to Vietnam, so he used his vacation to go
to war. His photos were so compelling that UPI relented. Within a
year, he had received the Pulitzer Prize for Photography for his
photo of a desperate mother wading to safety with her children. He
was shot to death on Oct. 28, 1970, in Cambodia while taking the new
bureau chief on a tour.
Tran Binh Khuol, Vietnam
Khuol was chief of the Viet Cong's photography and cinematography
division in the Mekong Delta. He worked on the front lines from 1960
until his death in 1969 in the U-Minh Forest, Minh Hai Province. In
1962, he fought American and South Vietnamese units spraying
defoliants along the riverbanks in Ca Mau. Two of his sons were
photographers, and one died in the war.
Source: Biographies excerpted from "Requiem: By the Photographers Who
Died in Vietnam and Indochina."
Talks, Films, Classes
These free programs are planned in conjunction with the exhibition
"Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina."
For more information, call the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, (503) 370-6855.
LECTURE: Keith Davis, curator of photography at the Nelson Atkins
Museum of Art in Kansas City, will talk on the history of war
photography from Matthew Brady's photographs of the Civil War through
the current Iraq War, 7 p.m. Sept. 3, Paulus Lecture Hall, Willamette
University College of Law. Free.
LECTURE: Richard Pyle, a retired Associated Press writer who covered
the Vietnam War as a reporter for nearly five years beginning in
1968, will discuss some of the photographers he worked with in
Vietnam, 5 p.m. Sept. 11, Paulus Lecture Hall, Willamette University
College of Law. Free.
FILMS: The museum will screen a two-part film series, "Reporting
America at War." From San Juan Hill to the Persian Gulf, documentary
filmmaker Stephen Ives tells the stories of the reporters who
witnessed and wrote the news from the battlefield, 7 p.m. Sept. 17
and 24, Hallie Ford Museum of Art. Free.
WORKSHOP: Education Curator Elizabeth Garrison will help teachers
prepare students for field trips to the exhibition, 4 p.m. Sept. 23,
Hallie Ford Museum of Art. Admission is free, but registration is
required at (503) 370-6855.
GALLERY TALKS: Education Curator Elizabeth Garrison or a museum
docent will speak about the exhibit, 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays Sept.
15-Nov. 3, Hallie Ford Museum of Art. Free.
PLAY: One-act play by Jon Spelman, "War Stories: 'Nam," based on oral
histories of Vietnam veterans and nurses, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29, Historic
Elsinore Theatre, 170 High St. SE. Free.