The Fighting Season - PhMuseum

The Fighting Season

Louie Palu

2007 - 2010

These photographs were taken in Kandahar, Afghanistan during the rise of the Taliban lead insurgency and the U.S. military surge focused on Kandahar. In the summer, the heavily vegetated landscapes in Kandahar become the front line where some of the most violent and bitter fighting takes place during what many in Afghanistan call “The Fighting Season”. I specifically focused on taking photographs of the conflict in Kandahar, which was the birthplace of the country, the Taliban and planning of 9/11. As the insurgency grew I spent most of my time in the districts west of Kandahar City. Kandahar has been the scene of numerous battles over centuries with little visual documentation until this post 9/11 war.

I spent time with Afghan, U.S. and Canadian troops and also focused on medics who collected casualties. I worked to create a sequence of images that examine what the front line of an insurgency looks like in this war, at this particular time. I was also very interested in the ever presence of nature and combatants interaction with the environment as part of the experience of war. Some of the first visuals of war I saw were paintings from the First World War including work by Frederick Varley and Paul Nash.

I wanted to use color and light in a manner for what I hoped would turn into a contemporary photographic interpretation of war, which for me became a disturbing and terrible beauty. My ultimate goal was to create a body of work which was not only a document but a universal portrait of war.

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  • Standing in dust from a improvised explosive device blast, Nakhonay, Panjwa’i District, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • An Army Medic closes the eyes of a civilian killed in crossfire between the Afghan Army and Taliban insurgents in Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • A Medevac helicopter on mission over Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • Dust and smoke on a helicopter landing zone listed as "enemy possible", Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • A soldier critically injured by a bombing in Bandi Temur, Panjwa'i District Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • Afghan National Army soldiers seen on the front lines in Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • A soldier holding a pet mina bird at a frontline combat outpost in Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • Medics treating civilians in a frontline trauma room in Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • A soldier searches a civilian in the insurgent stronghold of Pashmul, Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • A soldier asleep at a combat outpost the morning before combat in Nakhonay, Panjwa'i District, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • Sgt. Ahmed Shah resting after breaking his fast during Eid al-Fitr and multiple combat operations in Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • A wounded soldier in a medevac helicopter after a night raid, Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • A farmer processes his wheat crop while a group of soldiers conduct searches of homes after a battle with insurgents in Howz-E-Madad, Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • A soldier plays a flute while others peel potatoes on the front lines in the Howz-E-Madad the day before a battle in Zhari District, Kandahar Afghanistan
    Photo © Louie Palu

  • Thorns and a soldier near the village of Sangasar, which is the birthplace of the Taliban in Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Photo © Louie Palu


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