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UCSF Exhibits X-Ray Project Depicting Human Toll of Terrorism

By Lisa Cisneros

UCSF is exhibiting a poignant and provocative photographic documentary at the Kalmanovitz Library at the Parnassus campus of actual X-rays and CT-scans of survivors of terrorist attacks. The documentary, titled Inside Terrorism: The X-ray Project, features actual X-rays and CT-scans of people who were all victims of terrorism. The images come "from the two largest hospitals in Jerusalem to explore the most important social issue of our time: the effects of terrorism on a civilian population," according to the project website. The exhibit will run at UCSF through December, according to the Chancellor's Committee on Art, Honors, and Recognition, which approved the use of space in the library for this purpose. Peter Li, a medical student and member of the committee, was among those who approved the exhibit at UCSF. "The artist has used the gruesome artifacts of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem to craft an effective indictment of terrorism worldwide," Li said. "By showing only X-rays and CT scans, she has avoided the immediate shock value of gory photographs or video. Yet on inspection, the images truly speak volumes on the violence and tragedy of their subjects, especially to a medically savvy audience. The nature of these medical images also serves to anonymize and universalize the victims, helping us to empathize even while insulating us from personal details. On the other hand, UCSF audiences will probably note particularly that several of the victims depicted are young university students."
The thought-provoking exhibit comes to UCSF as part of a national tour to raise awareness of the many victims whose lives were forever changed by acts of terrorism. Previously, shows have been held at Stanford University, San Jose State University, Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University, among other universities. Inside Terrorism was created by Diane Covert, a photographer, social worker, and mother. The project consists of using light boxes to illuminate the images, which clearly show nails, screws, scraps of metal and even a wristwatch that were blasted through different parts of human bodies by terrorist bombs. "The idea for Inside Terrorism began to coalesce in my mind in 2002 as a personal response to terrorism and to my discomfort with the way terrorism has been justified in some circles," Covert is quoted as saying on the website. "Much like photographer Mathew Brady documented the Civil War, people in emergency rooms today are documenting the effects of terrorism. The exhibit is another form of 'straight' photography - that is photographs made with an unaltered spectrum of light. With that technology, we are able to look inside terrorism." Related Links: Inside Terrorism: X-Ray Project