Steve Mumford’s Baghdad Journal

September 21st, 2012

This is my brother Steve’s book, published in 2005. I still think its a stunning achievement. Why my brother felt a need to go to Iraq during wartime and draw pictures I can’t understand, but nevertheless he was called to this project, studied Arabic, grew a mustache, and went off armed with pen and paper and watercolors. That’s commitment.

View from an Abrams Tank, Sadr City

View from an Abrams Tank, Sadr City

Of course I’m biased but I think these drawings are very strong. The glaring white space in this picture, the bored soldiers in the hot sun, the civilians milling about in front of the barrel of the tank’s artillery, it adds up to a scene so vivid that its more real and more upsetting than a film could be.  I think this is the power of less being more: a pen and ink drawing is less than a film made with a crew, gaffers and sound guys, trucks of equipment.  Both mediums can create a realistic experience—but the drawing delivers with simplicity and grace.

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