From 2009 through 2010, twenty years after the Nicaraguan civil war ended, photographer Kevin Kunishi traveled throughout the highlands of Northern Nicaragua where the most intense fighting took place in an attempt to discover and document with his camera the legacy that this protracted and controversial war left behind.
In 1979, after over a decade of struggle, the socialist Sandinista movement in Nicaragua overthrew the famously corrupt dictator, Anastasio Somoza. The Sandinistas quickly began the work of applying their social and ideological values in the hopes of creating a better Nicaragua.
Unfortunately, the United States government had other plans. In the cold war environment of the 1980s, the prospect of a socialist/communist government gaining a foothold in Central America was deemed unacceptable. The CIA began financing, arming and training a clandestine rebel insurgency to destabilize the government.
These anti-Sandinista guerrillas became known as the contras. Between 1980 and 1990, Nicaragua would become the battleground of sharply conflicting political ideologies; the promise of a bright future was lost as the nation descended into civil war.
Although these two sides held polarized political philosophies, both in their foundation and practice, their survivors are united by the burden of a war-torn history. As political ideology evolves, dilutes, or disappears; the horrors of war endure.
This series consists of portraits of Sandinistas and their opposing Contra veterans, as well as artifacts and landscapes significant to that volatile era. Excerpts from extensive interviews accompany the images. This was a limited, handmade artist edition.
About the Artist
Kevin Kunishi's work has been recognized by numerous organizations and publications including The New Yorker, The Sunday Telegraph, VICE, American Photo Magazine, The International Photography Awards, Le Journal de la Photographie, AI-AP, the New York Photo Festival, Bloomberg Businessweek, Fast Company, Monocle, ONWARD, Photo District News, CENTER, Photolucida, CMYK magazine, Photographer’s Forum and Prix de la Photographie, Paris (PX3).
His work has been shown nationally at Project Basho in Philadelphia, PA, Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco, CA, The Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography, The Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C., The Daylight Project Space in Hillsborough, NC and The Bekman Gallery in New York.
In 2011 he was the honorary recipient of the Blue Earth Alliance Award for Best Photography Project, an award that honors projects that demonstrate excellence in the field of photography.