Photograph of a public art installation at Portland State University that acknowledged how many people had been killed in the Iraq war at that time. Each red flag represented 5 Americans killed. Each white flag represented 5 Iraqis killed.
Photograph of an ongoning installation on Peaks Island, ME. Each strip of plastic has the name and age of a soldier killed in Iraq.Art student Tom Bylander created an installation in response to the 3rd anniversary of the war in Iraq. He attached an American 25 cent piece is on each eye of each skull which added up to $500 worth of quarters.
What is your opinion of protest art-- specifically protest art involving the war in Iraq? In recent years there have been several mainstream exhibits dedicated to the exploration of war and concerns in Iraq. There have also been a number of anti-war protests involving the utilization of art on college campuses throughout the United States-- hundreds of installations involving the number of service people killed. Many art students have focused on the issue for school exhibits. With this in mind I ask the following questions: Do you think that protest art has the power to sway opinions about war? Or would you say that these works do little to change opinions as far as war is concerned? Do these works make a difference? Do they make an impact? If not, why?
Concerning the men and women serving in Iraq... should the morale of service men and women on leave and on the war front be considered when these works are displayed in public? After all, they realize the death in Iraq-- they see it daily. With that said, do they need to be reminded of it when on leave or by an image sent to them from someone back home? Should we be concerned that they may become disheartened upon viewing these public works while on leave or upon learning about them while serving actively in Iraq? Should these works be seen as supporting these men and women or do they cast doubt on what they have fought for? Where does responsibility fall concerning this issue?
I ask these questions because a good friend of mine recently came home from the war. He was offended that a local college had allowed the creation of a protest installation, similar to the images included in this article, in a high traffic public area and that the college had allowed certain student groups to hold politically driven rallies in the location. He learned that one of the rallies near the installation involved chants of “No more babies killed by our guns in Iraq!” and other chants that made assumptions about the intentions of the men and women serving in Iraq instead of the intentions of the US government. It troubled him.
One night while having a few drinks he discussed protest art and rallies involving protest art with me. I took the position that such works and events are protected by the constitution and that the people organizing the installations and rallies have that choice. He looked at me and said, “I chose to serve. I did not choose the war. And you guys wonder why there are so many suicides in Iraq”. Needless to say, his words have stuck in my mind. Are there ethical issues that we should be answering and responsible for aside from securing the right to create these works and to use them within the context of a rally? What say you?
Wake by Carrie Iverson. Features images of American soldiers killed in Iraq.
Detail of Mission Accomplished, by Feizal Valli. The installation contains a toy soldier for each American killed in Iraq.
Take care, Stay true,