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To April 8
“Afterwar: Veterans From a World in Conflict” is not an enjoyable show, but it is an urgent one. Lori Grinker, an experienced photojournalist, sought to document the aftermath of wars and their effects on soldiers, from World War I to the Iraq War, with detours into conflicts both well-known (Israel–Palestine, Northern Ireland) and obscure (Ethiopia–Eritrea, Falkland Islands, Malaysia). As one might expect from a talent like Grinker, the photographs are impressive: an Israeli whose feet have been amputated floating listlessly in a pool (pictured), a Russian whose hands have been amputated being given a therapeutic massage, a Sri Lankan girl writing in chalk using a scarred arm. But the most moving portions of the exhibition are the brief verbatim quotes from the individuals pictured. A Palestinian man in a wheelchair admits that his injury in the intifada, in retrospect, didn’t help conjure his “idea of a hero,” while a Protestant militiaman from Belfast acknowledges that when he was a young man, he killed four people ranging from their 20s to their 70s but was so immature, or perhaps numb, that he “didn’t think much about what [he] had done.” Interestingly, only a few soldiers—one or two Americans plus a veteran of the leftist International Brigade of the Spanish Civil War, now living in Cuba—seem to think that war is a good, or at least not a bad, thing. It’s hard to know whether this ratio of shattered to content veterans jibes with the reality across the globe, but the voices of loss and sadness are so compelling that it’s hard not to give Grinker’s broken subjects the benefit of the doubt. The exhibition is on view from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and by appointment, to Saturday, April 8, at Project 4, 903 U St NW. (202) 232-4340 (Louis Jacobson)