Baghdad Journal: Starred Review

“Baghdad Journal: An Artist in Occupied Iraq” / Publishers Weekly / Publishers Weekly Staff / July 25, 2005

With countless war accounts already in from Iraq, it's refreshing to get this dispatch told, from the perspective not of a journalist or a photographer, but of an artist. Mumford, a New York City painter, first arrived in Baghdad in April of 2003 and spent about a year there, and in other cities, accompanying U.S. troops on patrols, raids and combat missions. But the most arresting images in this illustrated journal come from his more mundane interactions: with people in cafs, at a meeting with a local imam, at a galley favored by local Baghdad artists. Mumford writes that, for him, "the act of drawing slowed down the war, recording the spaces in between the bombs," and it is through these spaces, the day-to-day of life in a country where life runs minute-to-minute, that Iraq and its war become illuminated in a way that we rarely see. At first glance Mumford's watercolors carry something of the hasty urgency of courtroom art, but this impression is soon belied by the images' depth of feeling and nuance. Accompanying the watercolors are passages from his journal, written in a lucid and reflective style that perfectly matches these quiet spaces pushing out at the surrounding chaos. His is a remarkable document. 6-city author tour. (Sept.)

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