Iraq: Photographs by Sean Smith at Imperial War Museum North

By Rosie Murphy | 12 March 2013

Exhibition preview: Iraq: Photographs by Sean Smith, Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, until February 2 2014

a photo of an American coalition soldier leading a line of blindfolded Iraqis across a desert
© Sean Smith and Guardian News and Media Ltd
It’s ten years since the invasion of Iraq, and Imperial War Museum North is commemorating the controversial war with a series of powerful photos focusing on how the ongoing conflict has affected ordinary Iraqis.

Shocking, poignant and sometimes complex, the photographs come courtesy of award-winning war photographer Sean Smith, who was sent to Iraq by the Guardian three months before the war began. 

Smith returned several times to reveal how the war has impacted the country’s civilians and to explore the truth of life in Iraq.

Some of the images, which graphically capture the pain and pathos of everyday life in the country, have been published in the Guardian. But many of them are powerful unseen snapshots of a people and country in transition.

Smith’s photos are exhibited in five-metre high frames, precisely detailing both the mundane and the extraordinary aspects of a decade at war.

Artefacts include the car destroyed in the Al-Mutanabbi bombing in a Baghdad market in 2007, brought to the IWM North by former Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller.

Visitors can also immerse themselves in one of IWM North’s famous 360° audio-visual experiences. Each day, at 4.30pm, Al-Mutanabbi Street: A Reaction accompanies the Deller piece. The film focuses on the impact of the Baghdad bomb, which killed 26 people and destroyed the livelihoods of many more.

Smith will deliver a tour of his display on March 19 - the tenth anniversary. An additional tour runs at 2.15pm (except Saturdays) in March, exploring the personal stories, photos and objects of the civilians and soldiers in greater detail.

  • Open 10am-5pm. Admission free. Follow the museum on twitter @i_w_m.

More photos:

a photo of two civillians with two soldiers in Iraq
© Sean Smith and Guardian News and Media Ltd
a photo of a boy carrying a white rabbit out of a large rubble strewn bomb crater
© Sean Smith and Guardian News and Media Ltd
a photo of a group of women with red sashes, burkas and assualt rifles
© Sean Smith and Guardian News and Media Ltd
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