An exhibit/performance that brings us face-to-face with the US-led invasions and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan
2006 - continuing
acrylic gouache on 12 x 12 x 3/8 inch wood panels
A work-in-progress, Unfinished Portrait has evolved over a period of time. The challenge has been two-fold: how best to communicate the tragedy on all sides of these wars, and how to induce audiences to give as much attention to the invaded victims as they do the invading victims. I have noticed that almost always, the reaction of viewers to the exhibit has zeroed in on the US soldiers that have died fighting these wars. Maybe that's because it is easy to attach faces to that number; more than 6,650 men and women in uniform have died, and their names and faces are all known. But what about the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan, who have been killed directly or indirectly by these wars? That number – hundreds of thousands – is beyond one's imagination, faceless.
This new approach, I hope, will help put that huge and far-away number somewhat into perspective to the people of this country.
A 12 x 12 inch panel that represents Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani men, women and children that have died. Each panel is painted with 8,836 small dots.
A 12 x 12 inch panel with passport-size painted portraits of fallen American soldiers. Each panel has 120 faces.
Close-up of a 12 x 12 inch panel showing more camouflage squares representing combatants and veterans that have committed suicide - a new, hidden face of these wars.
Please see sidebar links for images of the installation from past shows.
This performance calls for four members of the community, dressed in black, standing in front of the exhibit and reading accounts of the tragedy that has enveloped both the people of these war-torn countries and the invaders.
The performance puts emphasis on both the predicament of Bradley Manning and the truth. Bradley has become the poster child of truth in this country, at least in the eyes of those that are willing to acknowledge it. But his treatment is not separate from the truth that is actually available for people to access but choose not to. One supposedly broke the law, while the other didn't. And they're both hidden.
work mat, floor chair, panels, paint, brushes, canvas shrouds, embroidery floss
Here, Priti takes on the role of a "factory artist," engaged in mass production; however, what she is mass-producing is not anything that can be bought with money. Rather, it is the continuing reality that is a cost of these wars. The performance emphasizes how the so-called War on Terror has been commodified and sold to this country's citizens; it has been packaged as "safety", with the outrageous price tag--in money, human life, and moral integrity--well hidden.
The Wassaic Project Summer Festival/Exhibition, August 3, 2013 (upcoming)