Common Ground

Witnessing War: A Conversation on Photography & Violence with George Gittoes and Hellen Rose

Featuring Gittoes, Rose, David Levi Strauss, and Phong H. Bui


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Artists George Gittoes and Hellen Rose join Rail Consulting Editor David Levi Strauss for a conversation, with an introduction by Phong H. Bui. We conclude with a poetry reading by Genya Turovskaya.

In this talk

George Gittoes

Photo of George Gittoes
Described simultaneously as a figurative painter, a modernist, a postmodernist, a social realist, a pop artist and an expressionist, George Gittoes is an eyewitness in the world’s contact zones. Visiting the battle-and killing-fields of Rwanda, Iraq, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Bosnia and Afghanistan, he captures the atrocities and attacks on basic human rights, producing poignant, rare images of the aftermath of terror, shock and death on the edge of human experience. Also an internationally acclaimed filmmaker, several feature films covering the war on terror have been released by Gittoes since 2004. Gittoes has received multiple awards and recognitions, including an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of NSW (2008) and the Blake Prize for Religious Art (1995).

Hellen Rose

A portrait of artist Hellen Rose.
Performance artist, singer, writer, and actor Hellen Rose has recorded and performed with famous Australian musicians such as Mick Harvey, Jim Moginie, Tex Perkins, Doc Neeson, among others. Along with George Gittoes, she is co-founder of The Yellow House Jalalabad and The Yellow House South Side Chicago. She is assistant director and actor on five Pashtun dramas made in Pakistan and Afghanistan and is the first European woman to appear in Pashtun Films. Her projects include award-winning documentaries Love City Jalalabad (2013), Snow Monkey (2015), White Light (2019), and Haunted Burqa (2019). She is currently working with musicians in Kyiv, Ukraine as well as producing a documentary Love in War with George Gittoes.

David Levi Strauss

This is a pencil drawn portrait of Writer David Levi Strauss with a shaded black background, drawn by the Rail’s publisher Phong Bui.
Portrait by Phong H. Bui
One of the most urgent and critical art writers working today, David Levi Strauss’s work focuses on the intersection between image and text, and the third space that is created through that interaction. He is the author of Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics (Aperture, 2012), Words Not Spent Today Buy Smaller Images Tomorrow: Essays on the Present and Future of Photography (Aperture, 2014), and other books. His latest work is Co-Illusion: Dispatches from the End of Communication (MIT Press, 2020) exposing a new ‘iconopolitics’ in which words and images lose their connection to reality.⁠

Phong H. Bui

Photo of Phong Bui taken by Nicola Delorme
Photo by Nicola Delorme
Artist, writer, and independent curator Phong H. Bui is Publisher and Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Rail, the River Rail, Rail Editions, and Rail Curatorial Projects. Among many other awards, Bui received The Dorothea and Leo Rabkin Prize for Arts Writers in 2017, was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from University of the Arts in 2020, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts in 2021.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Genya Turovskaya reading.

Genya Turovskaya

Black and white photo of Genya Turovskaya
Poet Genya Turovskaya was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, and grew up in New York City. She is the author of The Breathing Body of This Thought (Black Square Editions) as well as numerous chapbooks. Her poetry and translations have appeared in numerous publications including A Public Space, Chicago Review, Fence, Octopus, Paris Review, and PEN Poetry, among others. She is the translator of Aleksandr Skidan’s Red Shifting and co-translator of Elena Fanailova’s The Russian Version (both from Ugly Duckling Presse) which won an award for best translated poetry from The University of Rochester. She has received a Fund for Poetry Grant, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, a Montana Artist Refuge Fellowship, a Witter Bynner Translation Residency at Santa Fe Art Institute, and a Whiting Award.

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.