Consisting of mainly black and white photographs interspersed with eerie colour images Open Wound has been edited from the work that Greene has done over a span of ten years covering the plight of Chechnya.
In the past few years it has become increasingly difficult and dangerous for journalists to gain access to the region. Nevertheless Greene has relentlessly followed the fate of Chechnya with his camera and personal diary at his side. Often working without financial support, sometimes on assignment for magazines, he has always enjoyed the encouragement and belief in him of his agency, Vu.
The thoughtful layout of the images and words in the book are a credit to its designers and publishers. They create not only a photographer’s personal view of the war but go further, asking of us, “How can you see, look away and remain unmoved?” The reader is forced to acknowledge the suffering that continuously pierces Chechnya: whether it is the awful last grasp at life by a dying air-raid victim as he crawls along the bloodied snow, or the warm photograph of a family of seven who, we are told, were dead within two years of their sitting for their portrait, the threat and devastating effect of Russian fire-power is omnipresent in this book.
Beyond bringing us the visual horror of war, Open Wound carries the reader into the conflict by being one of those rare things these days, a book with a purpose – one that is well considered and unsentimental. Greene doesn’t ask us to feel sorry for the people in his pictures, indeed the Chechens themselves have no room for self-pity. From the Tsars to Stalin to Yeltsin and Putin today the Chechens have been persecuted. As a nation they see their very survival in their enduring defiance. What Greene demands instead with this important book is our outrage.