David Levinthal’s haunting photographic recreations of the tragedy and drama of war in Afghanistan and Iraq evoke the words of the novelist and Vietnam veteran Tim O’Brien: “A true war story makes the stomach believe.” Levinthal’s soldiers and civilians are toys scuffed and posed for his camera. Still, they are photographs you believe–with your stomach.
For each photograph in I.E.D. there is a short burst of text–excerpts from the exceptional military blog The Sandbox, a collection of narratives and observations from service members deployed in Iraq.
“It’s interesting to watch people trying to be normal in the aftermath of a fundamentally disturbing event,” writes Owen Powell in 2006. “A few blocks away, corpses were littering the blackened asphalt of a city square, burning. Ambulance crews would be arriving and trying to find the wounded amongst the debris and the dead. But not us. It was someone else’s job, and there really wasn’t anything to do here but carry on with the mundane details of the still alive. So, we all walked around and fiddled with our gear or stood and tried to make small talk through clenched jaws.”
Stories like this push Levinthal’s photographs deeper into your stomach and don’t fade easily from your mind. Here are some of the images:
Images courtesy of powerHouse Books.