James Nubile, a New York City-based photographer, has been a working photographer for more than 10 years. During his studies in Austria in 1984-85, he became fascinated with what lay behind what was then known as the “Iron Curtain.” Since then, his travels have taken him through Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, working on stories that document the events and challenges facing these nations in the post-Cold War world. As a news photographer, he has contributed to many national and international publications, reporting from Africa and the Middle East, as well as covering domestic stories on the social issues of the day. He is currently producing a documentary film titled From Mound Bayou to Lady Selbourne: Two Stories of Race and Identity.
The wave of freedom that washed over Eastern Europe with the opening of the Berlin Wall was both fast and remarkably bloodless. But as soon as the euphoria and the songs of celebration faded, long festering feelings of resentment and nationalism emerged. Economies were unmasked as bankrupt; the socialist myth of the workers paradise was stripped naked. New countries were born almost weekly, and regional and civil conflicts erupted. The largest political shift the modern world had ever known was under way.
No doubt the vast majority of the millions of people of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union would not turn the clock back, but at the same time most probably did not think the transition to a civil and functioning society would command such a heavy price: hundreds of thousands dead, millions of refugees, shell-shocked populations, and a generation of children that know only conflict.
Articles from the Geneva Conventions accompany the images as a subtext. These conventions, while the cornerstone of international law, are often ignored in the face of naked aggression, with the community of nations standing by, a reluctant witness.
—James Nubile, summer 1998