Women and war becomes life for LA photojournalist
Iris Schneider – LA Observed – Friday, 17 August 2012 (originally published 11 Aug)
Common wisdom advises that life is a journey. For photojournalist Marissa Roth, life and art conspired, taking her on a worldwide odyssey that rambled over 28 years. The work she produced will be on exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance beginning August 16. “One Person Crying: Women and War” began for Roth when she was working on a book project in the Philippines. A colleague advised her that there would be a coup the next morning, just the day she was supposed to leave the country. At 3 a.m. she jumped on the back of his motorscooter and headed out, on assignment for the Los Angeles Times, to cover it. But she realized as the mayhem unfolded, “it wasn’t my thing. I was more interested in the other side, what was happening in the homes while this was going on.”
This became a recurring theme of interest in her work, eventually taking her to Cambodia and Vietnam, Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovina, Pakistan, Hiroshima, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Novi Sad in Eastern Europe where her grandparents lost their lives in World War II, and the United States.
Women are the real collateral damage when wars are waged. Though they are not the fighters, their struggles are far more personal, as they are left behind to keep the home functioning, the children fed and clothed, the cities and villages alive. These women are the survivors who soldier on in war’s aftermath. Roth traveled around the world, bearing witness as she let them tell their stories. “I can’t explain it. I couldn’t get away from it. It’s like I was following my path and my passion. I just had to surrender to it.” Her photographs, while steeped in the physical and emotional wreckage of war, show no guns, no blood, no combat . . .
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