Afghanistan in 4 Frames: Embedded Photojournalists Take Aim at the War

February 9 - May 13, 2011
SFAC Gallery at San Francisco City Hall
Over 80 images by four photojournalists: Lynsey Addario (New Delhi), Eros Hoagland (San Francisco), Teru Kuwayama (NYC) and James Lee (San Francisco).
Assistant Curator: Zara Katz.

(Project description, artists' bios,and  links to press below video interview and slideshow.)
Exhibition Wall Text:
The San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery’s Art at City Hall program is pleased to present Afghanistan in 4 Frames. This groundbreaking and timely exhibition features over 80 images by four photojournalists who have embedded with military forces in Afghanistan over the past nine years. Afghanistan in 4 Frames is part of an ongoing series of exhibitions at San Francisco City Hall that demonstrates the SFAC Gallery’s commitment to illuminating international concerns.

When approaching this exhibition, it is important to keep in mind that the US has had a strategic military presence in Afghanistan since the attacks of September 11, 2001. As of January, 2011, according to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), there are 78,430 US soldiers deployed in Afghanistan. Since 2001 there have been 1328 US soldiers killed in Afghanistan, with a disproportionate 499 casualties in 2010.

In President Obama’s State of the Union address on January 25, 2011, he stated, “Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.”

Beyond statistics and political rhetoric, the photojournalists in this exhibition are striving to provide insight into the lives and actions of soldiers (US, British and Afghan), and rare glimpses of civilian Afghan life intertwined with military presence. As stated so eloquently by exhibiting artist James Lee, “A balanced understanding of the war is possible only when counter narratives, such as the visual stories in this exhibition, are made available for public consideration.” 

At any given time there are approximately 50 photojournalists from around the globe embedded with the US military in Afghanistan. Putting their lives on the line, they spend every day alongside troops as they patrol, rest at camp, interact with civilians and enter into combat. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 22 journalists have been killed in Afghanistan since 1992. Armed with cameras, it is their determination to tell visual stories that enable us to understand the conditions of war from a human perspective.

Meg Shiffler
Afghanistan in 4 Frames, Curator
Director, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery

Selected Press:
New York Times / Bay Citizen:
SF Bay Guardian:
SF Examiner:

Radio Interview with James Lee on KALW's Crosscurrents:
Video Conversation between exhibition curator, Meg Shiffler and exhibiting artist, James Lee:


Artists' Bios:

Based in San Francisco, James Lee has carried cameras while conducting research in the Middle East and South Asia. He is a graduate student of the Department of International Relations at San Francisco State University and a US Marine Corps Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His field work focuses on guerrilla warfare, mobile cellular technology and computer mediated practices of representation. His photographs of Afghanistan have also been featured on and exhibited at The Museum of Ventura County.

Lynsey Addario is an American photojournalist based in New Delhi, India, where she photographs for The New York Times, National Geographic, and Time Magazine. Lynsey began photographing professionally in 1996 with no professional photographic training or studies, and started photographing conflict and humanitarian issues in 2000, when she traveled to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to document life and oppression under the Taliban. She has since covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Darfur, and Congo, and shoots features across the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. Lynsey has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the MacArthur Fellowship, or 'Genius Grant' 2009; she was part of the NYT team to win the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, for her photographs in Talibanistan, Sept 7, 2008.  In 2010 Lynsey was named one of 20 women on Oprah Winfrey's Power List, 2010, for her photoessay Power of Bearing Witness. Addario won the Getty Images Grant for Editorial photography in 2008 for her work in Darfur, where she photographed for six consecutive years.

Eros Hoagland,  a Bay Area based photojournalist, began working in 1993 covering the aftermath of El Salvador's civil war. He has since worked in countries stained by violence and unrest across the globe including Iraq, Haiti, Eritrea and Colombia. As well as documenting the political climate and social impact of conflict, Eros looks for an emotional narrative when approaching reportage projects. He also works on travel, and adventure sport stories as well as business and lifestyle pieces. His regularly shoots for the New York Times, and his work has appeared in Time, Newsweek, Frontline, Fortune, Forbes, People and Esquire among others.

Teru Kuwayama is a photographer who has spent most of the past decade reporting on conflict and humanitarian crisis. He has reported in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir and Iraq - traveling both independently and as an embedded reporter with military forces. His photographs have appeared in publications including Time, Newsweek, Outside and National Geographic. Kuwayama is the co-founder of, a Web-based network of media, military, aid and development personnel serving more than 40,000 members. In 2010 he was a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University, and as a result has developed the revolutionary web reporting initiative Basetrack, linking Marines with life at home through multi-media interaction and broad-based participation.