INSIDE TERRORISM is a photography exhibit which uses actual X-rays and CT-scans from the two largest hospitals in Jerusalem to explore the most important social issue of our time: the effects of terrorism on civilian population.

The X-Ray Project on the Daily Press

logoQuotes from the article:

"The X-ray images of Massachusetts artist Diane Covert transcend their sources, too, transforming a series of radiographs detailing the wounds of terrorist bombing victims into something much more than objective medical records of how explosives and shrapnel can tear through flesh, blood and bone.

Like portraits depicting their subjects in the nude, they're intimate and personal — and they bring searing new meaning to the idea of being vulnerable.

"You don't have to have a medical background to respond to these images," says Lita Tirak, curator of an ambitious, revealing and sometime wincing exhibit at Linda Matney Gallery in Williamsburg.

"They're some of the most provocative things I've seen in X-ray art."

Drawn from a series called "Inside Terrorism: The X-Ray Project," Covert's images can be bewildering, too, using shadowy radiographs, composite sets and multiples to explore the impact of terrorist suicide bombings on their victims.

Through strangely anonymous without their skin, hair and clothing, the figures are remarkably intimate and compelling at the same time, conjuring up the hapless fate of Everyman or Everywoman caught in the hail of nuts, bolts, nails and other small metal objects routinely used to make suicide bombings more deadly.

Among the most moving images is "The Family," a large composite radiograph showing the ghostly, shrapnel-ridden figures of a man, woman and young girl caught in an attack. "Nail in Neck," "Smashed Arm and Hand with Shrapnel" and "Hands Blown Off" show only parts of figures but are unforgettably horrific."

The gallery website:  

The X-ray Project page:  

What the curator had to say:


Surfaces, while potentially deceiving, contain markers of identity and environment. X-ray technology erases skin, hair, ethnicity, and clothing. The x-ray picture’s flat background offers no additional information. Such erasures in x-ray pictures eliminate the cultural context and turn the subject into an object for medical study—a method intended to save lives. The violence of terrorism also turns human persons into objects, but with the intent of destroying lives. Diane Covert’s The X-ray Project: Inside Terrorism addresses these forms of objectification. Covert appropriates medical x-ray negatives donated from two hospitals in Jerusalem that depict the victims of terrorism in the Middle East. She recognizes the victims’ loss of identity and humanity, and restores them by contributing contextual narratives of who they once were: medical professionals doing their job, people praying in both mosques and synagogues, and students having lunch at a café. The surface of violence is gory and bloody; x-rays’ removal of this surface reveals a surreal inner world in which a terrorist’s wristwatch, originally manufactured as a peaceful accessory, can become a weapon lodged in a victim’s body. Thus in their most graphic form, x-ray pictures of terrorist victims are composites of other victims and terrorists. The complicated union Covert discovers in these medical images is both provocative and unsettling. Terrorism makes everyone a victim, and her accompanying narrative text is a powerful restorative voice through which we might be able to see ourselves in her glowing installations of lost surfaces. Covert’s X-ray Project has toured nationally around the most respected medical institutions in the United States including Harvard, Stanford, John Hopkins, and UC San Francisco. Fees and transportation of her work to Williamsburg was made possible through the generosity of the X- RA*DI*ANCE Kickstarter Campaign donors.

Original Article can be found here.

X-rays turn art into illustration of terror Traveling exhibit uses victims' medical images to draw attention to terrorism's toll.

A wristwatch lies implanted in a jugular vein, hex nuts pepper a hip and a solitary nail rests parallel to a patient's spine.

These are just a few of a number of images created from terrorist victims' x-rays that are part of the touring art exhibit "Inside Terrorism: The X-Ray Project," accessible online (

Diane Covert, the photographer behind the project, said although the images were gathered from doctors in Israel, her goal was to create a body of work that focused on the impact of terror on individuals, regardless of their nationality, race or ethnicity. She wanted to build awareness of terror victims -- not the perpetrators, who she believes get too much attention.

The x-ray images were created as diagnostic tools, yet Covert sees them as portraits: "Doctors are inadvertently documenting this age of terror. ... Each image shows the worst that people can do and the very best in a single image."

Observers' responses have been overwhelmingly positive, she said.

"Physicians have really liked it," Covert said, recalling that one radiologist with extensive trauma experience told her some of the injuries were the worst he had ever seen.

Rebecca Rakow-Penner, a third-year medical student at Stanford University School of Medicine in California, helped bring the exhibit to campus. Rakow-Penner described the images as "shocking and disturbing." She said they also made her realize that though doctors are busy, it is important to take time out and focus on current events.

Exhibit Offers an Inside View of Bombings

Baltimore Sun - Arts Section - April 22, 2007


Students, physicians say X-ray exhibit drives home human toll of terrorism

stanford titleStanford Report, September 12, 2007

Diane Covert wants to change the way people view terrorist attacks. "I don't want to traumatize anybody, I don't want to hurt anybody. I just want them to understand," the artist explained as she showed a visitor through her exhibit one day last week.

"Inside Terrorism: The X-ray Project," on display in the lobby of Fairchild Auditorium through Sept. 14, features X-ray and CT scans of victims of terrorist attacks. In one sense, all the images are just clinical renderings of damaged humans, something viewed daily by physicians around the world.

But the images also show unusual causes of the damage. Nails. Hex nuts. Screws. Even a wristwatch. All still imbedded in the human bodies; in legs, arms, torsos and heads.

X-rays are nothing new for Gordon Shattock, a radiology technician at Stanford Hospital. "But these are far and above what we would probably see," Shattock said. "And Stanford is a trauma center. It brings home the reality of what's happening."

Dean Philip Pizzo, MD, said that "to see bones and tissues torn apart by nuts, bolts, nails and bombs is truly shattering to any professional."

One of the factors that drove Covert to create the exhibit was a desire to switch the focus away from the terrorists—who she feels get too much media attention—to the victims of their attacks, including survivors. And although all the images are from two hospitals in Jerusalem, the victims span a broad range of ethnicities and religions.

"We hear about all the people who die and all the body counts, but to actually see the burden that the living are left with … certainly makes you think about the bigger picture," said Donald Olson, MD, associate professor of neurology, as he viewed the exhibit.

Though graphic, the simple black and white images are not gory. "The things that we associate with being so human—like skin, eyes and hair—are all stripped away," said Elizabeth Zambricki, one of several third-year medical students who helped bring the exhibit to campus.

"It's good because you can actually sit there and ponder it, while I think a lot of images that you see in the media, they're just so gruesome that it's almost hard to look at and really take in," she said.

The very spareness of Covert's images heightens their impact. The sharp edges of a hex nut against the smooth curves outlining a femur, or a pointed nail aligned parallel to a victim's spinal cord.

One image shows a chunk of metal where it came to rest inside a victim's brain, against the inside wall of the skull, on the left side of the forehead. A black trail stretches out behind it back through the brain to the point of entry near the right ear. The trail appears darker than the surrounding tissue because the freshly created void space is filled with air, rather than gray matter.

Rebecca Rakow-Penner was especially struck when she heard Covert describing to a reporter an image of a student with a wristwatch lodged in her neck. "I thought of myself as a student and all my friends around me and that could have been any of us sitting on that bus and being that unfortunate person," she said. "It was shocking, disturbing and, unfortunately, our reality."

Rakow-Penner, pursuing an MD and PhD, and fellow third-year medical student Matthew Goldstein were among the students who organized the show.

Goldstein said that although he was just entering his third year, he was already attuned to viewing X-rays from a medical perspective, simply as tools for diagnosis, but the images cut through that professional detachment. "Seeing all the nuts and bolts, and a wristwatch, that's incredibly striking," he said.

Richard Greene, MD, a pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, agreed. "Look at this collection of stuff that's in people's bodies," he said, gesturing at a small display case filled with the sort of nails, nuts and screws used in the bombs. "That's crazy. To think that people can actually do this to one another."

For Jo Wallace, an art therapist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, the exhibit drove home more than the nature of the physical damage. "I'm a child therapist, so I work with the emotional side of things," she said. "I wish we had an X-ray for the emotional trauma that these individuals have experienced as well."

Art exhibit focuses on terrorism

Stanford showcases X-rays of Israeli bombing victims
By Kristina Peterson / Daily News Staff Writer

Among a batch of X-rays that arrived at the Stanford University School of Medicine this week were images of a severely broken leg studded with hex nuts, a chest pierced with a nail and pieces of a bomber's wristwatch embedded in a young girl's neck.

The collection of back-lit images printed on Duratrans medical film was propped inside a cluster of display cases for local residents and students to view over the next two weeks. They're part of the X-Ray Project, a collection of X-rays and CT scans of terrorism victims obtained from the two largest hospitals in Jerusalem.

Assembled by Boston artist Diane Covert, the exhibit made its first West Coast stop at the Stanford University School of Medicine, after a massive community effort to bring it there.

"This allows us to express our concerns about the terrorism in Israel, but it's not just about Israel, it's a global issue," said Julie Bernstein, program associate at the Jewish Community Relations Council, which coordinated the effort to bring the exhibit to the Bay Area.

"These images are vastly different from the kinds of images you would see at a Stanford hospital," said third-year Stanford medical student Elizabeth Zambricki, who helped persuade the medical school's radiology department to host and sponsor the exhibit.

Covert said that although the radiographs are meant to unsettle, they are still traditional art.

"In my mind this is a portrait," Covert said, pointing to an image of a nail stuck inside a shoulder.

"The only difference is that the wavelength of light allows us to go through the soft tissue," she said.

Covert, who was trained as a social worker but is a practicing documentary photographer, said what prompted her to organize the collection was discomfort over the amount of media attention usually showered on terrorists after their attacks.

"There's too little empathy for the victims, too little concern about what people go through. I wanted to change the emphasis," she said.

But obtaining the radiographs from Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Hadassah Ein Kerem, the two major hospitals that take care of 99 percent of Jerusalem's sick population, was "very challenging," Covert said.

"I pestered a lot of people until we found a doctor that was willing," she said.

The two hospitals eventually gave Covert about 150 images, sending some full-body scans through mail carriers and smaller images on discs. It took her around 18 months, working with a radiology expert, to comb through the images, she said.

Covert does not know the names of her victims, but she assumes they survived their attacks, if only for a few hours.

"Doctors don't order X-rays of people that are dead," she noted.

But even for survivors, recovery can be difficult both physically and mentally, said Victor Carrion, a Stanford professor of child psychiatry who will deliver a lecture Friday in conjunction with the exhibit.

"It used to be thought that children were more resilient to post-traumatic stress disorder, but it's the total opposite. While the brain is developing, there's a lot of vulnerability," Carrion said.

The medical school will also host a memorial for "worldwide terrorist victims" next to the exhibit Tuesday, the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

E-mail Kristina Peterson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Media advisory: X-ray exhibit at Stanford shows human impact of terrorism

Media advisory: X-ray exhibit at Stanford shows human impact of terrorism
By Mitzi Baker

Aug. 28 , 2007

Louis Bergeron | Tel (650) 723-3900
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M.A. Malone | Tel (650) 723-6912
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STANFORD, Calif. — In a time when daily news reports of terrorist bombings can leave people numb to the trauma of the injured, photographer Diane Covert has put a spotlight on the civilian victims of terrorism. She has assembled a collection of X-rays and CT scans of people who were out eating pizza, riding a bus home from work or dancing at a wedding when their lives were forever changed by a terrorist’s bomb.

Covert’s exhibit, “Inside Terrorism: The X-Ray Project” opens at the Stanford University School of Medicine on Sept. 4, its first West Coast stop on a national tour that has included shows in Boston and Baltimore. It runs through Sept. 14 in the lobby of Fairchild Auditorium on the Stanford campus.

The images pack a powerful message, not through blood and gore, but by their simplicity. One shows the watch worn by a suicide bomber that ended up embedded in the neck of a victim. Another shows hex nuts that ended up in someone’s pelvis. These are the stories of real people who have survived terrorist attacks.

Covert emphasized that, although she obtained these images from the two largest hospitals in Jerusalem, her exhibit transcends nationality, religion and gender.

“They represent a broad cross-section of humanity,” she said on the project’s Web site. Terrorism’s victims are commuters on the London underground and the trains of Madrid; they are celebrants at a wedding in Amman, Jordan and a bat mitzvah in Hadera, Israel; and they are workers in the World Trade Center in New York City. “The victims of terrorism, worldwide, are ordinary people going about their lives,” she said.

More information about the project is available at
In addition, the medical school has scheduled several events related to the exhibit. All events are free and open to the public. They include:

What: “Inside Terrorism: The X-Ray Project” exhibit.
When: Sept. 4-14. Open Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: The lobby of Fairchild Auditorium, Stanford School of Medicine, 291 Campus Drive

What: Reception and discussion with artist Diane Covert
When: Sept. 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Fairchild Auditorium

What: Pediatric grand rounds, “Young victims of violence: The aftermath of trauma on the psychological well-being of children.” Presented by Victor Carrion, MD, associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry and child development
When: Sept. 7, 8 a.m.
Where: Fairchild Auditorium

What: “Remembering worldwide terrorist victims” memorial
When: Sept. 11, noon
Where: Fairchild Auditorium

For directions and locations of parking, please consult the map at the following link: Limited metered parking is available at the parking lot by Fairchild Auditorium, entrance at Campus Drive West and Via Ortega.

Young Victims of Violence: The Aftermath of Trauma on the Psychological Well-Being of Children

Pediatric Grand Rounds — September 2007
September 7, 2007
*NOTE: Different Location for Sept. 7, 2007 only: Fairchild Auditorium *
8–9 am

Young Victims of Violence: The Aftermath of Trauma on the Psychological Well-Being of Children
Victor G. Carrion, MD
Associate Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Child Development
Director, Stanford Early Life Stress Research Program
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine
Exhibit: Inside Terrorism - The X-Ray Project:

*NOTE: Different Location for Sept. 7, 2007 only: Fairchild Auditorium *

Radiology and Fine Art : American Journal of Roentgenology: Vol. 199, No. 1 (AJR)

ajr.2012.199.issue-1.coverRead article here.