War Shots

Artist Diane Bush takes aim at TV and war

Chuck Twardy

But for that war's seething sequel, Bush kept her camera in its case and instead took the old prints outside and splashed bleach on them, slashing flame-like tongues into the fuzzy, particulate video images.

"I was trying to convey the increased violence," Bush says. "I wanted to distress them in some way."

And so you have, in "Warheads 18," a distorted, alien-headed man, both eyes blotted out with white-hot splashes. In "Warheads 28" also shot from a downward angle, a somewhat younger Bob Schieffer peers sorrowfully at you through a red-orange corona. exhibited at the Burchfield-Penney Arts Center in Buffalo, NY, earlier this year, the marred color prints of Warheads: Photographs by Diane Bush have been collected into a book of the same title from KuDa editions. The fine-art photography publishing house was founded by fellow Las Vegas photographer Darius Kuzmickas, and the softbound, 60-page book is available online through Alibris, Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. (The project was supported in part by the Nevada Arts Council and the National endowment for the Arts.)

Bush will sign copies during a release party hosted by Dust Gallery, from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, during the monthly First Friday festivities.

A cultural program supervisor for Clark County, Bush is a former president of the Contemporary Arts Collective. She is also an avowed "peacenik" of the Vietnam era who emigrated to the United Kingdom with a draft dodger. A decade later, she returned to earn a master's degree in photojournalism at SUNY-Buffalo. She moved to Las Vegas in 1997.

As she sees it, Vietnam was well-covered in all its gory horror by an uncensored media. But by the time the Gulf War erupted, the Pentagon had learned its lesson and restrained coverage, and a compliant media relayed its self-aggrandizing images. So the "warheads" of her original project, Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Had Cable?, were the televised babblers who helped buttress support of that war.

"This, it seems to me, was the first good marriage of conceptual art and documentary," says Bush. For the current war, she saw no point in repeating herself. "I felt I'd already said it all in terms of the imagery." The book includes 23 of Bush's original prints, along with an essay by the photographer, an afterword by Jerry Schefcik, director of UNLV's Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery, and a foreword by Anthony Bannon, director of George eastman House. Bannon observes that Bush's pictures "create a sort of guerilla assault, using one of the most compelling features of photography ... namely its ability to tell lies."

In the end, Bannon suggests, it's up to the viewer, of Warheads and of talking heads, to sift through the distortions.

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