Nina Berman

Documentary photographer
Location: New York City
Nationality: American
Biography: Nina Berman is a documentary photographer, author and educator, whose photographs and videos have been exhibited at more than 100 international venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the... read on
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Credits: nina berman
Updated: 12/09/16
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War is both everywhere and invisible.  It’s there when we shop, when we socialize. We are reminded of it and yet distracted from its effects. In our culture we conflate war and play.   We are attracted to weapons of war, in part, because they give us the promise of power and inspire heroic fantasies, at a time when many aspects of life feel small and without purpose.  In the words of Chris Hedges,  “war is a force that gives us meaning.” Homeland examines the militarization of American life post September 11, focusing on the enticing nature of the contemporary American security state; the government’s role as scriptwriter and theatrical producer, and the role of citizens as paid actors. volunteers and consumers in the advancement of the war on terror narrative.

The photographs were made between September 2001 and 2015.


Homeland,  (Trolley Books,)  2008

Awarded PDN Book Prize

Selected Publications:

  • In/Visible War: The Culture of War in Twenty-First Century America, ed. Jon Simons and John Louis Lucaites, Rutgers University Press, 2017

The Baffler,  “Homeland Portfolio,”  issue no. 30, March 2016

Photoworks, Weber, John S.  “Homeland,” Photoworks,  (Autumn/Winter 2008-9  

Leica Fotografie International,   (March, 2009) “Homeland,”   Cover and multiple

Politiken Magasinet, (October, 2008),  Lind, Henrietta, "Homeland",  Photo essay,  October, 2008

Selected Exhibitions:

Zimmerli Art Museum,  Subjective Objective:  A Century of Social Photography,  New Brunswick,  USA 2017
Krakow Month of Photography, "The War From Here," May, 2017
Mirbach Palace,  American Power and Myth,  Bratislava, Slovakia, 2017  (Solo)
Red Line Gallery, "The Reality of Fiction," Denver, USA, 2013
Sylvia Wald + Po Kim Gallery, "War is for the Living," New York, USA, 2013
Dublin Contemporary: Terrible Beauty—Art, Crisis, Change” Dublin, Ireland , 2011
Bieler Fototage, "Homeland", Bienne, Switzerland, 2010
Houston Center for Photography, "Unite and Untie," Houston, Texas , 2009
ArteFoto, "Homeland," Ancona, Italy, 2009

Side Gallery,  “Homeland/Marine Wedding", New Castle, England, 2009

Gage Gallery, Roosevelt University, "Homeland",  Chicago Illinois, 2009

Visa Pour L’Image , “Homeland”,  Perpignan, France, 2008

Text from "In/Visible War: The Culture of War in Twenty-First Century America"

Fans cheer as billion-dollar weapons systems fly over baseball stadiums. Attack helicopters touch down on state parks while families run to greet armed Marines. On beaches and boardwalks, military recruiters teach children to aim assault rifles. An armored vehicle arrives in Times Square. Crowds dance to “Locked and Loaded,” a song by the Air Force rock band. This year’s Navy campaign is #selfiewithasailor.

The U.S. military sells its image to the public by sponsoring hundreds of family-friendly events that bring civilians face to face with the nation’s fighting forces. Central to the audience experience is the invitation to participate in military power while remaining in the comfortable role of consumer and spectator. These events—there are hundreds a year—allow the public to experience a version of warfare absent of carnage, defeat, destruction, and loss. In other words, war is fun.

Local lawmakers enlist corporate partners for sponsorship and branding. Atlantic City’s Air Show, Thunder Over the Boardwalk, launched in 2003, is now the signature summer event seen by hundreds of thousands of people. Sponsored by Geico, the show features the military’s most expensive bombers from the B-2 Stealth to the F-22 Raptor. Along the boardwalk, recruiters set up booths promoting the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines with model weapons, blow-up mascots, toy giveaways, videos, and posters.

These events, which so smoothly conflate war and play, exist in parallel with the growth of military training and terrorism preparedness exercises that rely on civilian participants to authenticate their narratives. Vast lands of the American landscape are used by the military as staging areas for War on Terror performances with increasingly elaborate scripts, stages, casts, and crew.
In southern Indiana, on the site of a former residential center for the mentally disabled, an elaborate game of nuclear war is played out as thousands of civilian extras,

covered in fake blood, lie on piles waiting to be rescued. The $12 million NORTHCOM exercise, which imagined Islamic terrorists detonating a dirty bomb, was such a popular draw that many locals took vacations from work in order to participate. At $15 an hour and a promise of overtime, playing a victim in the War on Terror was a chance not to be missed.

Nina Berman, 2017


Also by Nina Berman —


The Black Boys of Dozier

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An autobiography of Miss Wish

By Nina Berman — An autobiography of Miss Wish is a story of a survivor of sex trafficking and child pornography and her..

David Duke

By Nina Berman — In 1990 and 1991,   I photographed David Duke's campaigns for US Senate and Governor of Louisiana...

fractured: the shale play

By Nina Berman — Fractured: the shale play , documents the altered landscape and human consequences of unconventional gas..

Triumph of the Shill 2

By Nina Berman — Documentary short 

times square

By Nina Berman — This is what I remember about Times Square ...         I remember the girls, all in a..


By Nina Berman — Complex trading, based on algorithms and proprietary knowledge and communicated through a privileged visual..

robert taylor

By Nina Berman — The Robert Taylor Homes were the largest public housing project in the USA stretching two miles along..

tea party

By Nina Berman — Tea Party supporters rally on tax day in Washington DC  April 15, 2010


By Nina Berman — Megachurches and Christian evangelicals in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Kentucky photographed in..

afghanistan - under taliban

By Nina Berman — Photographs from Afghanistan 1998 in Kabul and 2000 in Kandahar showing life under Taliban rule.

Obama train

By Nina Berman / USA — In 2009, newly elected President Barack Obama traveled by train from Philadelphia to his..
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