War: February 2005 Archives

drawing from a pre-school Chechynan child

To Chechnya with art, with deep concern, and love too.

A number of artists from around the world have organized what they are calling the "EMERGENCY BIENNALE in CHECHNYA."

The extraordinary occasion, a work of conceptional art itself, will be inaugurated tomorrow, February 23, at 5 pm with a press conference at le Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Thereafter a suitcase filled with works, projects and concepts by more than 60 artists from all over the world will "hit the road," to be delivered in Grozny to a location yet to be finalized. The project is co-curated by Evelyne Jouanno and the artist Jota Castro with the support of the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH).

Duplicates of the works and documentation packed in the suitcase sent to Chechnya will be displayed in Paris until April 23.

All kinds of information on Chechnya will also be presented [in le Palais de Tokyo]. Mylene Sauloy's and Manon Loizeau's films on daily life and culture of Chechens since the beginning of the first war in 1994 will be screened.

In addition, an internet post with webcam and direct access to the website created for the occasion - http://www.emergencybiennale.org - will do its utmost to connect with Chechen partners, to receive images and information on the suitcase and the organization of the exhibition in Grozny. A discussion forum will also offer an opportunity to react and exchange on the subject across and beyond all borders.

A publication is in preparation. It will comprise texts on the situation of human rights, some theoretical articles on art, political and social sciences as well as images of the various artistic projects.

[tip from e-Flux, image from sauseschritt, where it was accompanied by the text I've copied below]

terror und gegenterror in tschetschenien: aus einem 2002 veröffentlichten bericht (der russischen föderation und der republik chechnya) über die lage des Bildungswesens in tschetschenien stammen folgendes zitat und die kinderzeichnungen:
pre-school children were born and lived during war and continue to live in war affected situation. the psychological condition of children could be described by words and expressions like terror, reserved disposition, cautiousness in behavior with other adults, insufficient level of development of native speech, poor imagination, absence of variety of emotions ...

[my] English translation of the German above:

terror and counterterror in Chechnya: these drawings and the following quotation comes from an official report (of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Chechnya) published in 2002 on conditions within the Chechnyan education system:

a girl holds a poster reading 'Seriously damages human rights' during an anti-Bush demonstration in front of the US Embassy in Brussels today

Of course, like most people outside this country, William Pfaff knows that Bush doesn't really know a damn thing, so in this excellent discussion of the enormous and essential divide between the U.S. and the European world he addresses the myths held by a much larger constituency, the one which has made that little man President - and still likes what it sees.

Why Bush will fail in Europe

The President has an enormous political gulf to bridge. The trouble is, he doesn't even know it's there

William Pfaff
Observer, February 20

[Mr Bush's] trip will fail because he and his administration do not understand what really divides most continental European governments from the US ... Few Europeans believe either in the global "war on terror" or the "war against tyranny," as Washington describes them.

American claims about the threat of terrorism seem grossly exaggerated, and the American reaction disproportionate and even hysterical ... The invasion of Iraq is widely regarded in Europe as irrelevant to the reality of terrorism, overwrought in scale and destruction, and perverse in effect, vastly deepening hostility between the western powers and Muslim society ... Many Europeans believe it is not the world that has changed, but the United States.

[these excerpts from the full article appeared on a Guardian page covering the attitude of the world's press to the purposes of Bush's European visit]

I don't know how I'm going to be able to stay.

[image by Jacques Colett for Agence France Presse Belgium]


the "politicization" of the gates!

Many thanks to Noah Lyon for giving me the opportunity of pulling together my last two posts about art and politics (and maybe a good many more of these blogs, going back almost three years) with an email to which these photos were attached. The elegant sticker in the pictures is Noah's art, and my caption is taken straight from his message. Of course none of us knows much about the specifics of this particular "politicization" operation.

Incidently, for those who might be disturbed by the negativity of some of their critics, remember that we're still all part of their art, according to Christo and Jeanne-Claude, even when we quibble about or shout at The Gates.* It's such a burden.

* "The work is not only the fabric, the steel poles, and the fence. The art project is right now, here. Everybody here is part of the work. If they want it, if they don’t want it, either way they are a part of the work I believe very strongly that twentieth century art is not a single, individualistic experience." - Christo

[the images from Michael Carreira via Noah Lyon]

Nina Berman Cpl. Tyson Johnson III, 22, a mechanic with Military Intelligence

The caption next to the photograph of Corporal Tyson reads:

Cpl. Tyson Johnson

22 years old, 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, was
wounded September 20, 2003 in a mortar attack on
Abu Graib Prison. He suffered masssive internal
injuries and is 100 percent disabled.

Photographed May 6, 2004 at his home in Pritchard, Alabama.

"Most of my friends they were losing it out there.
They would do anything to get out of there, do anything.
I had one of my guys, he used to tell me, 'My wife just
had my son. I can't wait to get home and see him." And
you know, he died out there. He sure did, and I have to
think about that everyday.

"I got a bonus in the National Guards for joining the
Army. Now I've got to pay the bonus back and its
$2999. The Guard wants it back. It's on my credit
that I owe them that. I'm burning on the inside.
I'm burning."

We went to the opening last night mostly because a friend was part of Smack Mellon's latest group show (the site's not updated as I'm writing this, so check ArtCal for details), so it was supposed to be largely a social thing. Sure we knew the title of the show, "on the subject of WAR," ahead of time, but I can speak for both of us when I say that we were still caught a bit off guard by the power of the imagery. We didn't leave with any springs in our steps.

Susan Sontag, in whose memory the show is dedicated, would have been pretty pleased: The curator, Smack Mellon-ite and visual artist Kathleen Gilrain, wants to show how other artists continue to deal with the dilemma of representing in images the atrocities and absurdities of war.

Eve Sussman Solace 2001 video still

Twelve of the horrible, and infuriating, photographs and texts from Nina Berman's project, Purple Hearts, Back from Iraq, shared a room with Eve Sussman's very beautiful and melancholy video, Solace, from which the strains of Purcell's "Music for a While" were heard repeated over and over again, threatening to destroy any composure remaining to the viewer. The video is worked from homey Brooklyn footage assembled by Sussman on September 11 and the days following.

Mike Asente Aerial and Ground Explosions 2004-2005 mechanical embroidery, dimensions variable (detail of installation which included five pieces)

Mike Asente's delicate white needlepoint "canvases" explode near the entrance of the huge DUMBO space, which itself looks much like a survivor of urban war.

Barry and I have two of Asente's pieces, and we like them both a lot. One is a large soft sculpture, Baby Disney Asshole, and the other is a tiny framed embroidery suggesting a distant galaxy, which somehow, and quite oddly, links the earlier asshole with the current work with explosions.

There's much, much more in the exhibiton on Water Street, including a room of early 40's photographs from the "good" war by anonymous photographers (from the collection of Edward C. Graves), but crowds and the lateness of the hour made it difficult for us to see all of the work properly last night.

The other participating artists are Bobby Neel Adams, Barnstormers, Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson, Ron Haviv, Susan Meiselas, Patricia Thornley, Sarah Trigg. While photography and video dominate, a number of other media are represented in this powerful show.

We should really go back ourselves, but it won't be easy. No one walks out whistling.

[image at the very top from Purple Hearts; Sussman video still from artnet]

This is not a good thing for America, regardless of the court arguments.

Lynne Stewart, whom the NYTimes accurately describes as "an outspoken lawyer known for representing a long list of unpopular defendants," has been found guilty of all charges levelled against her by Justice Department prosecutors. The headline on the Times site for a story dealing with reaction within the legal defense community to her conviction is shown above. It's a little cute, but the reality is definitely not.

"I don't think that there's a political lawyer in this country who doesn't believe that the government has a plan to target the lawyers who do what we do and to silence us," said Stanley L. Cohen, one of the country's best-known defenders of militants, terror suspects and other unpopular clients.

. . .

Roger L. Stavis, who worked alongside Ms. Stewart representing another defendant in the case that led to Mr. Abdel Rahman's conviction [it was the lawyer/client relationship of Stewart and Rahman which was the subject of the government's ire - Ed.], said it was regrettable that a lawyer could be convicted of a crime "for her zealous representation of a particularly odious client."

But wait, good people, maybe this isn't such a big problem after all. This regime just sweeps up any number of folks around the earth whom it brands as terrorists, throws them into concentration camps, again anywhere in this Pax America world, and possibly for life, by the admission of its own spokespersons. There they are never charged with any crime, yet they are routinely tortured and denied access to legal counsel. We don't even know who they are or where they are; no list is ever furnished; and the gang in Washington may itself not know about the existence of most of them or the nature of their alleged wrongdoing. The victims' friends and family are normally no better informed about their disappearance than the rest of us.

In the current scheme of things, concerns about legal representation for an accused terrorist may have become irrelevant. Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman was seized and tried long before 9/11, when we are told "everything changed." There have been virtually no trials for real terrorism since, and zero convictions. This government doesn't believe in trials when they can get away with avoiding public airings of its incompetence and evil purposes.

Lynne F. Stewart's trial mave have been the exception which proves the rule.

The Democrats have decided they'll let Gonzales become the chief law-enforcement officer of the world's only superpower rogue state.

If, after the November 2004 election, there might still have been any doubts around the world about how many Americans actually support the regime which has reinvented their homeland as a dangerous rogue nation, this will finally squelch them. The only "opposition party" in the country says it's pretty cool with the guy who was largely responsible for legitimizing our use of torture anywhere in the world as a device for protecting our very exclusive national security.

What are these privileged politicos waiting for? Where will they take a stand? I think we know the answer already.

But maybe this torturing rogue state thing is actually okay, even estimable, because, like Gonzales's own tale, it's such a great immigrant success story, the U.S. having come from such a humble background to finally emerge the most powerful and most violent nation on earth.

So perhaps you should give us a big hand and a warm pat on the back, world, although you'd better have a smile on your face.

This page is an archive of entries in the War category from February 2005.

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