AP20 A year in photography
Taken from the introduction to American Photography 20
Written by Peggy Roalf
Photographed by Mary Ellen Mark


Unpublished photograph from a series about centenarians.

Design Director: Michael Mark
Art Director: John Seeger Gilman
Director of Photography: Maisie Todd
Editor: Stephen L. Petranek
Publication: Discover
Publishing Company: Disney Publishing Worldwide
Writer: Karen Wright

American Photography
presents the best and the worst of times in an outstanding 20th anniversary collection. A year of debate on mnay fronts is represented by horrific images from the conflicts in Iraq, Liberia, and Afghanistan, interspersed with haunting evocations of small-town American Life, insider views of youth culture, and picture profiles from the campaign trail.

The relentless dissemination of images from the Iraq war in 2003 has had a profound effect on viwers that will likely have a profound effect of public policy in the long run. Among the many war photographs selected by this year's jury are: Luc Delahaye's unpublished panoramics of U.S soldiers quarding Iraqi detainees; unpublished image of a flag-draped coffin being sent home; James Nachtwey's record of a soldier's life; Robert Nickelsberg's picture of a wounded Marine being carried from battle by a fellow soldier; Yuri Kozyrev's tableau-like view of the aftermath of amissile strike; Stephanie Sinclair's photo of a dead Iraqi child being prepared for burial.

In Volume 20, youth culture is explored by its own, with a student portfolio by Shay Platz that reveals it subjects' wareness of life's shifting realitites, and one by Rachel Tag that offers a dreamlike view of a world left behind for independence. A striking image of privileged youth in Milan by Lauren Greenfield creates a virtual bookend for this notable collection of work by young photographers.

As the line between reality and art becomes increasingly blurred, photographs that do not simply describe an experience, but are themselves the experience, were everywhere this year. From Gideon Mendel's assembled panoramics portraying the lives of AIDS sufferers in South Africa, to Charly Kurz's depiction of Baku on the brink of modernity, to Ferit Kuyas's view of the Pennsylvanis field where United Air Lines flight 93 went down on September 11, 2001, a photograph's ability to arous an emotion often equals, or exceeds, its factual content.

Luckily, there is always room for quirky, the mysterious, and the enchanting. Among such images are Andy Ryan's photo of a perfectly groomed show cat in an unlikely setting; Holly Lindem's surreal assemblage of ingredients for "Whatever Stew", Satosihi Minakawa's highly choreographed baseball iamges of an advertising campaigh; John Offenbach's dipiction of empty white spaces; and Llyod Ziff's take on the pre-teen pleasures of lolling about at the pool.

This year's show was judged by Kathy Ryan, Photo Editor, The New York Times Magazine/Jury Chair; Dennis Freedman, Vice Chairman, Creative Director, W Magazine; Nancy Jo lacoi, Director of Photography, Esquire Magazine; Daniel Power, Publisher, powerHouse Books; Jay Colton, Photo editor, TIME Magazine; abd Todd Waterbury, Creative Director, Wieden & Kennedy.