It’s black and white, it simple, it is quiet and disturbingly peaceful. It is a series of images of death without a cry, a tear or a drop of blood. It screams loudly about the injustices of war, yet there is no guns, no bullets, no helicopter shadow. Just a series of empty bedrooms. Tightly neat and cleaned bedroom, almost like hospital beds. Except that these are the bedrooms of fallen soldiers that will never, ever occupy them anymore.
These images by Ashley Gilbertson are the most powerful images of war I have ever seen. They are dramatic by what they do not show: The fallen boys. Instead we see the remains of Life brutally interrupted, the trophies, posters, gadgets that once made them happy and proud. Suddenly, their absence within these personal space become unbearable. And death, the death of a US soldier takes a new dimension. It is no longer a soldier from within many, an anonymous face under a helmet, but a person, an individual, a life that is missing.
19 rooms , published by the New York Times magazine is an extraordinary feast of photojournalism. The work involved ( finding the soldiers, convincing the families,..) must have been grueling and extremely painful to pursue. It is a great example of how, by moving away froman event, you can sometimes better capture it’s essence ( Sorry Robert Capa). This essay tells the tale of war, of any war, better than anything I have ever seen. It will haunt you. trust me.
There is also an interview of Ashley Gilberston here: