Tim Freccia: The Wall Street Journal

Tim Freccia:
The Wall Street Journal

Project Description

William Meyers on Photography: Sudanese, New Yorkers and UFOs

By William Meyers
August 23, 2014

Tim Freccia: Life and Death
Ricco Maresca 529 W. 20th St. (212) 627-4819. Through Sept. 13.

In the middle of this exhibition are two panels that are different from the rest—horizontal rather than vertical, black and white rather than in color, and composed of 18 small pictures rather than one large portrait. The small images are depressingly familiar scenes of African violence: corpses, dazed children, burning villages. The rest of the show consists of full-length portraits Tim Freccia took of the two major ethnic groups involved in the long-running South Sudan conflict.

Mr. Freccia had his subjects stand in front of a white backdrop; the prints are 84 inches tall, so the figures are virtually life-size, isolated from any context. They look at us and we at them, apparently in the same space. The Dinka people, photographed in 2011, are cowherds, some of them 7 feet tall, who wear simple gowns, plain necklaces, bracelets and anklets, go barefoot—and yet appear noble. The Nuer were photographed in 2014, and are all members of the White Army. They are young men, armed, and wear miscellaneous T-shirts (one says “Prague 04” over a picture of the Czech city), hoodies, bandoleers, cargo pants, jeans, sneakers or flip-flops, with the occasional item of camouflage clothing being the closest thing to a uniform. They hold their automatic rifles conspicuously as they look at the camera. One young man wears a purple T-shirt, a digital watch and has a big hole in his right sock; his only weapon is a spear. What war is he fighting?