Critic’s notebook: Art and modern warfare

Trevor Paglen focuses on the typically unseen aspects of conflict and military action.

On the wall of my mother’s den hang two framed 19th century military rosters. One chronicles the Union troops my great-grandfather, a civilian soldier, led during the Civil War. The other lists the 11 battles he fought in — Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania, etc. — from 1862 to 1864. Spotsylvania is where he took a MiniĆ© ball to the midsection, a wound that likely would have killed him had it not passed through his leather belt first.


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