Somers had been living and working in Yemen as a photojournalist when he was abducted and held captive by Al Qaeda militants for more than a year. He was killed by his captors during a rescue attempt.
Tubutis reached out to Beloit’s Wright Museum of Art and offered to curate what became “Conflict and Consequence: Photographing War and its Aftermath.” The exhibition was on display in the Wright’s Hollensteiner Gallery from mid-August to mid-October.
“I want this exhibition to be a way to conceptualize the sort of work that Luke was doing,” Tubutis said just before the show opened. “A lot of people can’t wrap their heads around what his work as a photojournalist entailed,” he adds, “so I wanted to put it in context with the work that other photographers are doing.”
Tubutis has worked for Chicago’s noted Field Museum and was most recently executive director of Blue Sky Gallery, the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts, in Portland, Ore. In September he became associate director of The Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln, Neb., where he works with Beloit alumnus Wally Mason’74, who directs the Sheldon.
“Conflict and Consequence” featured the work of contemporary photographers covering eight countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Nicaragua, Peru, Sierra Leone, Syria, the United States, and Yemen. “The exhibition presents the work of 14 photographers who have dedicated their practice as journalists, documentarians, and artists to making work that records what happens during war and what comes after,” Tubutis wrote in one of the text panels.
At the center of the gallery were four photographs taken in Yemen by the late Luke Somers.
“The line between war and its aftermath is a blurry one,” Tubutis wrote in the show’s introduction. “Sometimes the two are indistinguishable in their simultaneity, and then there are lingering atrocities that do not manifest their full trauma until well after guns are silenced.”
“U.S. Marine Cpl. Philip Pepper, age 22, Garmsir District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan,” photographed by Louie Palu, one of 14 photographers featured in “Conflict and Consequence: Photographing War and its Aftermath.” After being embedded with U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, Palu turned his camera on the soldiers. “These are the men and women that governments rely upon to implement their complex policies, especially when it comes to killing people,” Palu wrote.