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The Dennos Museum Center

Benjamin Busch: Art in War

The Art of WarApril 15 – June 17, 2012

Benjamin Busch, author, photographer, and film-maker, was born in Manhattan and grew up in rural New York State. He graduated from Vassar College in 1991 with a major in Studio Art, and soon thereafter accepted a commission as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps.  The prints to be featured in this exhibition were taken during to combat tours; April - September of 2003 and February - September of 2005

Busch writes of his photography:

On my first tour I was serving as the commanding officer of a Marine Corps Light Armored Reconnaissance company during the invasion, liberation and occupation of Iraq and, when security permitted me, I recorded the unique obscurities of the country from my perspective. On my second combat tour I captured images in and around the Iraqi city of Ar Ramadi, capitol of the Al Anbar Province. Serving in combat units during both deployments, I was restricted to capturing only one or two images each day due to my position and situation. Many of these photographs address politics, war, America and Iraq but they are also dedicated to abstraction and have a dialog with the history of works in painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpture, film and, of course, photography.

I am drawn artistically to environments that rely upon artifacts to define a human presence. I have always been fascinated by archeology and there is some of it in my photography. In some ways I am searching for things while they are still on the surface, while they are still informally displayed, before we wait long enough to consider them historical evidence. I am trying to catch the moment when what we consider common no longer draws any attention. The importance of these moments will not be noticeable until they become impossible to find. Cubism, symbolism, abstraction, icons and iconography, photography and photojournalism, portraiture and cave paintings are all referenced in these images and they are as much about the history and discovery of art as they are a particular record of Iraq. They demonstrate, in some ways, the perseverance and the necessity of artists to find art in their surroundings despite circumstance.

I tried to record Iraq as its past was dissolving and its future uncertain. Photographs allow me to hold on to what I notice as I pass through time and place. This collection is a condensed rearrangement of my selected memory from 398 days in Iraq. It grants me the right to assign longevity to impermanent observations. I am often drawn to record fragile evidence and temporary debris for this reason. The images that you see are moments that cannot occur again. What I photographed there has already been repainted, burned, or discarded. I only had one chance to take a photograph of any moment there. These are the chances that I took.

Busch’s images from Iraq have been featured in Five Points, War, Literature & the Arts, and Photography Quarterly.  

This exhibition is supported by grants from the Michigan Humanities Council, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, Local support comes from the Robert T and Ruth Haidt Hughes Memorial Endowment Fund, TV 7&4 and WCMU Public Broadcasting.

The Dennos will host two programs with Benjamin Busch as part of the exhibition:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 7 p.m.

Benjamin Busch will discuss his experiences as a marine in Iraq in 2003 and 2005 and the Art in War photographic series that addresses politics, war, America and Iraq, as well as abstraction and a dialog with the history of works in painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpture, film and, of course, photography.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 7 p.m.

Benjamin Busch will discuss his work as a filmmaker, actor, writer, and his new book, Dust to Dust: A memoir, which explores life and death, peace and war, the adventures of childhood and the revelations of adulthood. A book signing will follow.


Dust to Dust: a Memoir - coverDust to Dust: A Memoir by Benjamin Busch is available in the Museum Store for $26.99 plus tax. Benjamin Busch will be doing a book signing following his presentation. For more information or to reserve a book call (231) 995-1586.