Matt Moyer, GUNS FOR HIRE: Inside the Shadow World of Hired GunsGallery at the Ann Felton Multicultural Center October 6 - November 5, 2008
The business of hired guns has affected world history, culture and politics for thousands of years. In the Bible the Pharaoh chased the Israelites out of Egypt with an army that included hired foreigners. With the rise of the nation-state in the late 17th century mercenaries fell out of favor. Now, after 300-year lull, private soldiers are back in the field often using the modern corporate structure to sell an age-old service. These soldiers of fortune work on every continent but Antarctica and have played a significant role in many ware including Bosnia, Angola, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether you call them ‘guns for hire’, ‘soldiers of fortune’, ‘mercenaries’, or some other term, they operate in a shadowy world of ambiguity where their allegiances are not always known.
With up to forty thousand private soldiers assisting in the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq the business of hired guns has become a hundred billion dollar industry. Many of the companies providing these military services brag that the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq could not continue without them and m any analysts agree. The recent increase in use of these private soldiers has raised many concerns including that they are not bound by any military code and they often operate with little or no oversight from any government. They are out there patrolling, fighting, and dying, not entirely in secret but mostly out of view.
Over the course of the year I spent working on this project I photographed many forms of hired guns from the institutionalized to the more fringe elements. I traveled to Afghanistan, South Africa, France, Nepal, Kenya, Uganda, and The Democratic Republic of Congo documenting the lives of hired guns in their many forms.
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