New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Bonnell Robinson and Dana Mueller
No Man’s Land

This is a photo show about the costs of war—seen and unseen—but there isn’t a casualty in sight. Two photographers, working independently, offer their separate perspectives.

Photographer Bonnell Robinson visited some of the battlefields of World War I on the Western and Italian fronts where hundreds of thousands of soldiers lost their lives from 1914-1918, but all that remains are mostly bucolic landscapes; in one a couple of old artillery shells standing on end in the corner of a French farm is one of the few remaining hints of the horrors that had occurred here. Another image shows tall mounds of grass-covered earth; they were actually mass graves for some of those aforementioned soldiers. Seeing shell-marked stone buildings, one field hospital just a remnant of its stone walls remaining, is not a surprise. But these are not images you want to hang in the living room.

Fast forward to World War II and photographer Dana Mueller takes us on an entirely different tour- to former POW camps in the southern United States where 500,000 Nazis were held from 1943 to 1945. That German soldiers were even in the United States may come as a surprise and thinking that they may have enjoyed a relatively relaxed existence is a bit disconcerting. Even more so when you see their living quarters were on hallowed ground such as a famous Civil War battlefield in Virginia. Here, too, the landscapes are mostly pastoral scenes, dense forests, a deserted shack, no hint of their past history as prison camps for POWs. These are all images with a story but if an anti-war message is the basis for the work of these two photographers, it's lost in the translation or the passage of time.

Bonnell Robinson and Dana Mueller
No Man’s Land


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