ENDGAME IRAQ | Trying to get to Baghdad

Richard Mosse ART ’08 is in the Persian Gulf awaiting an available flight to Baghdad. Mosse will be embedded with the U.S. military in Iraq, photographing Saddam Hussein’s palaces. Mosse will be sending regular updates and photographs to the News.

We’ve been waiting days now to embark for Baghdad. A videographer and I have been staying with troops in what is known as “tent city,” on an unnameable U.S. base on the Persian Gulf. I am not very sure why it’s forbidden to reveal the location of this place. It will be obvious enough to anyone with a vague working knowledge of the region. Perhaps the host country is ashamed of what’s going on here. The base is a busy hub for moving troops and equipment into and out of Iraq. It’s a prefabricated city built on a desert. The dust rattles through the place while military juggernauts beetle across the sky, and Apache gunships zip along the horizon in formation.

Richard Mosse, a 2008 Yale School of Art graduate, is in the Persian Gulf awaiting an available flight to Baghdad. Mosse will be embedded with the U.S. military in Iraq, photographing Saddam Hussein’s palaces. Mosse will be sending regular updates and photographs to the News. (Photograph by Richard Mosse/Contributing Photographer.)
Richard Mosse, a 2008 Yale School of Art graduate, is in the Persian Gulf awaiting an available flight to Baghdad. Mosse will be embedded with the U.S. military in Iraq, photographing Saddam Hussein’s palaces. Mosse will be sending regular updates and photographs to the News. (Photograph by Richard Mosse/Contributing Photographer.)

We watched as our names climbed the long list of people queueing to fly into Baghdad. After waiting all night, we stole onto an aircraft at 6 a.m. while others, farther up the list, slept. Delighted with ourselves, we forgot our exhaustion, hauled our many pieces of luggage onto the bus, and were driven out onto the tarmac to a waiting Hercules. But again we had to wait. Hurry up and wait. That’s the motto of the armed forces. Finally a woman came to inform us that our seats had been taken by a pair of GMC pick-ups, and that we would not be able to fly out after all. We’ve waited two days here already for our onward flight. I heard of one fellow who has waited eight full days and still hasn’t been able to move on. His mind must be going blank. This place is exactly how I imagine purgatory — an endless, sleepless wait to move up a terminal list of the damned dressed in bullet proof vests waiting to transit to the fiery hell of the International Zone.

We are out here to take photographs of Saddam Hussein’s many palaces around Iraq. I’ve been waiting several months to make this trip and wouldn’t have made it this far without the generous assistance of the News. Our trip is funded by a grant from the Annenberg Foundation, given to me upon graduation from the Yale School of Art MFA in photography last summer. The grant allowed me to bring along Trevor Tweeten, a talented New York videographer. Between us I hope we can get a good sense of this raddled nation and how it is being stitched back together again.

Richard Mosse is a 2008 graduate of the Yale School of Art.

Comments

  • Rob

    Poor Richard, he has to wait in the desert!
    Could it be because important things and people have precedence?

    Unlike the other men your age, Richard, nobody is likely to be shooting at you once you reach your destination.

  • Andrew

    Kudos to Mr. Mosse and the News for a (petentially) interesting story. I'll be curious to see how this experience unfolds.

    I do hope that readers can appreciate the experience and the insigt that a quasi-cultural/informative/artistic piece like this may provide - we'll see what Mr. Mosse and his companions have to say - instead of attacking issues that are not the point with snarky comments. (I'm not sure, Rob, that the point of this entry was to whine about being bumped from flights.)

    Safe travels and a safe return to Mr. Mosse, his companions, and all our troops in harm's way.

  • Ted

    Ashamed? The value of Richard's future articles is already suspect, since he doesn't seem to be interested in keeping an open mind…

  • former YDNer

    Wow, the bias apparent in just a few paragraphs is over the top.

  • Wenda

    I find your writing style intriguing. I am embaressed to say I don't take the time to read a lot of news, But your style drew me in and kept me interested through all of your articles. For a time I could see and feel what it might be like to walk in ones shoes through red days and dark cockpits. If only briefly, I could picture it. I hope you continue writing, possibly even a book.