Medieval Christian mythology speaks of Siege Perilous, a chair left vacant at the Round Table of Camelot. It was a seat reserved by God for only for the purest of heart; the most pious and honorable knight who alone was destined to recover the cup of Christ. Anyone but the Grail bringer himself who sat in the “Perilous Seat” would be struck dead instantly. Siege Perilous sat empty for years as the Knghts of Camelot searched far and wide for the Grail.
It was Galahad who finally claimed the seat, and as legend is told, achieved the Holy Grail. Galahad’s symbol was a red cross set upon a white shield; the standard used by the Knights Templar. It is the Cross of St. George and the first flag of England. It is the crusader’s mark.
If perception is indeed reality, then to much of the Muslim world, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan are nothing short of a modern crusade. As a villager in the volatile province of Helmand, Afghanistan said with no hint of irony or drama: “This is a war between Christianity and Islam.”
The Grail represents the search for the devine; the replenishment of spirit and soul. But it has also become a metaphore of the unobtanable goal.
These photographs do not attempt to depict a literal account of war, or an accurate portrait of Iraq or Afghanistan. Nor are they meant to explain the outcome of politics or strategy. They are merely windows into a parallel reality brought to Muslim lands on the wings of Christian armies. They are glimpses of the past, and opaque visions of a possible future. They are interpretations of reality: Perceptions.