cinematic video
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I started the image bank for “iraqi eye” in late 2003 and the beginning of 2004, at the time of the Seige of Fallujah. “Shock and awe” was already a year old, with no end in sight. No one could really see what was going on there. We were blind and mute. This made me think about the aphasic fugue-- a perseverant mental state typical of traumatized persons. In aphasia you can only speak partially, or in repetitive rounds, stuttering. And about eyes--bleeding eyes and mouths of the civilian casualities, especially the children. I made a fragmented collage text lifted from the New York Times report series, “The Struggle for Iraq”, written during the Seige. For images images of the eyes of wounded children in Iraq, I found the source images on aljazeera.net in 2003. I got the idea that the images of the bleeding eyes of the children were something that we don’t want to see, while the children cannot see easily through the blood. The protective eye against ‘evil’-- or the eye of God-- perhaps these eyes were also those things. In cascading repeats they might resemble a curtain of blood, or something like wallpaper. Wallpaper is something in the background of your life, something you don’t really look at: you may not even notice it. As I developed the ‘repeat’, just past the bleeding eyes, I found my attention migrating from the closed bleeding eyes into openings or apertures. Within these I started to layer in HD video stills from ‘recipe (evacuee cake), a film (2008) using text by the poet Molly McPhee, who recounts a recipe for consumption of refugees ‘put into pies.’ The video stills were from a series of traumatic inventories: video clips and voiceovers, as if to list the ingredients for a recipe to consume and discard excess humans and animals, AKA persons 'nobody' wants-- migrants, prisoners, persons without identification papers, refugees, children without a place to thrive. I also used clips of my performance videos from the naxsmash project, stills of face and lips are drowning in waves of forgetting, in the ocean surf-- mouth open to gasp for air, 90 degrees upturned, slit-eyes. Clips of activists protesting Guantanamo, wearing orange prisoners garb-- I placed in apertures opened by the bleeding eyes. It was important to store these stills of activists protesting the Guantanamo prisoners' indefinite disappearance in orange hell. The prisoner-performance clips wanted to move in alternating currents against a mechanical graphic of stars, to punctuate a cartography of the disappeared. In counterpoint, I scattered fragments of photographs depicting flag-draped caskets, saved from the internet back in 2003, when the bodies of American soldiers first started to come into Dover, Delaware. Like the Iraqi wounded children images, these disappeared quickly from the mainstream media in the US.

“Iraqi Eye (Wallpaper)” iterates elements from several participatory art projects from 2003 onwards, including contributions to the Banner Art Collective , Velvet-Strike Machinima project, and Iraqi Memorial. My new short animated film, “Recipe (evacuee cake)” (2008) from which the stills of Guantanamo protestors are drawn, will premiere in installation for the exhibition “In Transition” at the Municipal Museum for Fine Arts, Ekaterinburg and the National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Moscow, in the autumn of 2008. Image fragments appearing in the video stills are culled from open source photographs on Flickr (accessed March 2008) by takomabibelot, ayahthetiger, kcivey, lewishamdreamer and arimoore.

“iraqi eye’ will be part of the exhibition, " War as a Way of Life” , curated by Clayton Campbell, at the 18th Street Art Center, Santa Monica, California, September 27 to December 19, 2008
full index
DATE: 2008
60 x 81 inches
152 x 206 cm

Medium photomontage C print

Edition of 3