(EN) RPST MASTER SERIES : James Nachtwey : MEMORIA exhibition


‘Memoria’ a retrospective photographic exhibition by the legendary war photographer James Nachtwey,

 will be on display for the first time in Bangkok.

  • This exhibition includes a large collection of photographs taken by James Nachtwey over numerous decades in various countries facing war and conflict. Notably, his latest photographs showing the current circumstances in Ukraine will be on display for the first time which will give an important perspective on the effects of the war. 
  • The objective of this exhibition is to reveal war’s tragic effects on combatants and civilians alike, to identify issues that need to be dealt with by the public and to be an inspiration to other photographers around the world.

This is a rare opportunity to see a large-scale retrospective exhibition by James Nachtwey, one of the greatest documentary war photographers of our time. James Nachtwey: Memoria Exhibition has been organised by The Royal Photographic Society of Thailand, in collaboration with the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre and supported by  The Embassy of the United States of America in Thailand. One hundred and twenty-six photographs will be on display as well as a short-film of James Nachtwey’s interview directed by Thomas Nordanstad. The exhibition will open on the 5th of September and be on display until the 26th of November 2023, 10 am – 8 pm, 7th floor of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.  Admission is Free.


Over the last 42 years James Nachtwey has covered nearly every armed conflict in the world. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in places including the International Centre of Photography in New York, Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, Palazzo Reale in Milan and Fotografiska in Stockholm and New York. However, this will be his first exhibition in Thailand and Asia Pacific.

A documentary about War photography directed by Christian Frei will be shown at the event. Christian Frei followed James Nachtwey for two years into the wars in Indonesia, Kosovo and Palestine. Christian Frei was able to film this by using special micro-cameras which were attached to James Nachtwey’s photo-camera. In the documentary we see the famed photographer looking for the decisive moment and we hear his every breath. Differentiating it from other documentaries on photographers, Christian Frei’s techniques allowed an authentic insight into the work of a world-renowned photojournalist.

Some of James Nachtwey’s most powerful photographs included in this exhibition:

Sudan Darfur 2004: A mother comforted her son, who was being cared for in a medical center run by Médecins Sans Frontières.

West Bank Ramallah 2000: Palestinian protesters hurled stones and Molotovs at Israeli soldiers, who fired live ammunition as well as steel rounds coated with rubber, which were sometimes fatal.

Afghanistan Kabul 1996: What had been the central commercial district resembled a moonscape of destruction.

Greece Idomeni 2016: When the border with Macedonia was closed, some of the migrants attempted to find another way through and had to ford a raging river, freezing cold from the melting snow in the mountains.     

Bosnia-Herzegovina Mostar 1993: During the house-to-house fighting for control of Mostar, Croatian militiamen seized an apartment building, driving out Muslim residents.

El Salvador San Luis de la Reina 1984: Wounded soldiers were carried to a village football field to be evacuated by helicopter, and three girls, dressed for a Saint’s Day ceremony, left church to watch.

USA New York City 2001: The collapse of the south tower, World Trade Center


Nachtwey is an extraordinary observer and an acute witness, who has devoted his career to documenting some of the most crucial issues of contemporary history.

James Nachtwey, an American war photographer and photojournalist, was born on March 14, 1948. He was raised in Massachusetts and studied political science and art history at Dartmouth College from which he graduated from in 1970.

Nachtwey began working as a photographer for Albuquerque Journal in 1976. He then moved to New York in 1980 and worked freelance. In 1981, he did an overseas project exemplifying civil conflict in Northern Ireland. Following from this he worked as a contract photographer for Time magazine from 1984-2018. 

Over his professional years, James Nachtwey has covered a range of social issues and war conflicts. In 2003, he was seriously injured in Baghdad when a grenade was thrown into the military vehicle he was in while accompanying soldiers on patrol. The soldiers he had been accompanying when the attack occurred were U.S. soldiers of the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad. Despite this, Nachtwey was able to recover sufficiently enough to return overseas to cover the tsunami in Southeast Asia on the 26th of December, 2004.

About the Memoria Exhibition

Each photograph in this exhibition represents a fragment of a memory, captured within the continuum of the events Nachtwey experienced. Each image was intended to reach a mass audience during the time at which these events were taking place, as a way of raising public consciousness; one element amongst many in the process of change.

Now, as that same continuum moves relentlessly forward, and the events themselves recede in time, Natchwey hope’s that these pictures will stand as a remembrance of the people in them, of the conditions they endured and how those conditions came to be.

“For me photography is not a way to impost on reality what I think I already know. It’s an exploration – one pair of eyes, one mind, one heart, moving through the real world in real time, trying to tell the stories of what happens to people, one-by-one, at the sharp end of history; stories that society needs in order to function properly; to assess contemporary events, to make well informed decisions and to continually learn about ourselves,” said by James Nachtwey about his life work. In his “Memoria” exhibition in Fotografiska Tallinn, James Nachtwey says “Eventually, the scope of my work expanded beyond war, to include many other circumstances; where there were social injustices crying out to be corrected, humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters requiring immediate action and health issues in need of greater attention.” 

Visit James Nachtwey: Memoria Exhibition during 5th September – 26th November 2023, 10 am – 8 pm at 7th floor, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (free entry). For more information visit http://www.rpst.or.th/