Exploring the Iconography of Evil, Part 2

The power of photography to create a fabric of memory is at the heart of two other projects due out soon. In April, filmmaker Errol Morris brings out his new documentary, titled “Standard Operating Procedure,” which uses reenactments to explain what happened inside Abu Ghraib prison. Along with Morris’s film, there is a new book by photographer Nubar Alexanian, who was on set during the making of the documentary. Two of his images are seen here. While Alexanian’s images clearly depict reenactmen

The power of photography to create a fabric of memory is at the heart of two other projects due out soon. In April, filmmaker Errol Morris brings out his new documentary, titled "Standard Operating Procedure," which uses reenactments to explain what happened inside Abu Ghraib prison. Along with Morris's film, there is a new book by photographer Nubar Alexanian, who was on set during the making of the documentary. Two of his images are seen here. While Alexanian's images clearly depict reenactments, they are chilling.
Alexanian's book, called "Non-Fiction" (Walker Creek Press, $60), also contains images made on the set of other Morris films. But it is the images from the Abu Ghraib film that will provoke the most curiosity. In the book's introduction, written by Mark Singer, Morris describes his films as being principally about "the idea that we're in possession of certainty, truth, infallible knowledge, when actually we're just a bunch of apes running around." His films often show the faultiness of memory, or the faultiness of the meanings we apply to our memories. The still images by Alexanian explore the same ideas. His images are filled with ambiguity, what he calls "the well that feeds still photographs." His images reinterpret the famous scenes of Abu Ghraib not as reality but as metaphor.—David Schonauer