The photographs in Sean Hemmerle's book Them (Kehrer Verlag, 2017) consist of portraits of Iraqis and Afghans living in the conflict zones of those countries in the early 2000s, the most heated period in our wars there. His photographs are intended to send a message. "This was really a fuck you piece to the Bush Administration and our answer to 9/11," says Hemmerle, a Poughkeepsie-based photographer. Through his documentation of the effects of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, he aims to give readers a new perspective on the wars in the Middle East and witness the unsung tragedies befalling civilians in that region just as he had first hand. Here's an excerpt from Them describing a scene from September 13, 2003:
"I walked through the remains of the Iraqi Olympic Committee offices this morning. One very large bomb, exploded near the base of the six-story, block-long structure, fractured it from top to bottom, ripping a crater in it twenty feet deep and collapsing portions of the floors above. There are no walls remaining on the first two floors. The exterior melts and disintegrates in Claes Oldenburg fashion. On the upper floors, evidence of the office activities remain, but most are ashen. The area smells exactly like ground zero did on September 11. A family now lives on the premises and is constantly involved in scavenging any useable materials. One man walked with me through the floors making charade gestures of airplanes dropping bombs, explosions, and men firing rifles. Occasionally he would stand with arms raised, palms up, and frown at me quizzically. He asked me where I was from. I told him, 'Mexico.'"
Portraits of Afghans and Iraqis from Sean Hemmerle’s recently published book Them (Kehrer Verlag).