Fine art photographer, explorer and American doctor Jeff Gusky gave a lecture and Q&A Oct. 14 about underground battlefield tunnel carvings and the struggle of World War 1 soldiers to hang onto their humanities in his series, The Hidden World of WW1.
Gusky was brought to Pacific by the Media Arts Department and the Pacific Index through a strange turn of events that began when co- editor-in-chief Nicole Vickers published an article about the 100th anniversary of WW1 in 2014.
Vickers said Gusky’s publicist contacted her shortly after her piece was published, asking if there was interest in bringing Gusky to campus to share what he had found of no cost to the university.
“I was so surprised to get the call,” Vickers said. “It’s nice to know my work isn’t just seen in the little Pacific bubble and the things I do have an actual impact in the real world.”
Media Arts Department chair Mike Geraci said his impression from Gusky was that he genuinely just wanted to share information and have conversations with college students as much as he could.
“He really seems like he’s dedicated to making the world a better place, which is really interesting,” said Geraci.
Gusky will be presenting The Hidden World of WW1 as a window into the humanity of soldiers that refused to be silenced in the face of modern mass destruction.
Gusky began his exploration into the tunnels by traveling through France and Germany and reaching out to farmers and landowners to attempt to have access to the tunnels under their land.
When he was given access, he documented carvings in the underground walls ranging from pictures of loved ones to religious icons to jokes.
Vickers said the carvings were the soldiers’ way of coping with the mass destruction that was going on above them.
In addition to the underground tunnels, Gusky spent time in Poland and in torture chambers.
“He offered such an incredible experience,” Vickers said. “It’s kind of beautiful when you think about it because these people were trying to hold onto themselves and we get a glimpse into their lives and struggles.”
Gusky held an intimate Q&A with students that were followed by his public lecture. The German club also cohosted the event.
Vickers said she hopes this event will set a precedent for the Pacific Index and the Media Arts Department of bringing diverse and high caliber speakers to campus.