NO GLORY, September 8 through October 1, 2011
A groupexhibition of 13 international artists who consider the material and human costs of war.
Co-curated by Camille Gage and Susanne Slavick at Form + Content Gallery in Minneapolis, Minnesota
The artists in No Glory hail from coast to coast, including those born in this country as well as in Cuba, Egypt, Japan, Mexico and Pakistan: Aaron Hughes (Chicago IL), Amado Al Fadni (Cairo), Enrique Castrejon (Los Angeles CA), Hirokazu Fukawa (Tariffville CT), Camille Gage and Monica Haller (Minneapolis MN), Andrew Ellis Johnson (Pittsburgh PA), Samina Mansuri (Toronto ON), Rocio Rodriguez (Atlanta GA), Paul Shambroom (Minneapolis, MN) elin o’Hara slavick (Chapel Hill NC), Susanne Slavick (Pittsburgh PA), and Elaine Spatz-Rabinowitz (Cambridge MA).
The exhibition title is inspired by the words of WWII veteran and author Jay Wenk: “There’s horror enough. No glory.” The artists in No Glory resist the glorification of war, envisioning its impact across generations, its terrible residue, cataclysmic loss, and calculated enactment as well as its very representation. They examine what rains down in destruction and what rises from the ashes, what painfully lingers and what we long for instead.
No Glory grew out of 10 Years + Counting (10YAC), a larger collaborative initiative arising from a “Costs of War” focus residency at Blue Mountain Center in the Adirondacks in May of 2010. 10YAC is an artist-led project that encourages and promotes creative responses to the anniversary of our nation’s decade of continuing war. (For more information visit http://www.10yearsandcounting.org/)
Ceremonies and acts of commemoration will be common through the run of NO GLORY and there is much to mourn. There are too many lives lost, too many resources squandered, and too much blood on everyone’s hands. After ten years of war, the temptation to justify such sacrifice is only human; so it is all the more important to resist the glorification of war. As author and WWII veteran Jay Wenk has concluded: “There’s horror enough. No glory.”
Artists respond to the traumas we inflict on each other through state-sponsored or individual acts of violence. Witnessing these acts and their aftermath directly or indirectly, they wrestle with the ability to comprehend and convey them. The works in NO GLORY, as Susan Sontag describes in Regarding the Pain of Others, offer “an invitation to pay attention, to reflect, to learn, to examine the rationalizations for mass suffering offered by established powers,” asking: “Who caused what the picture shows? Who is responsible? Is it excusable? Was it inevitable?” The chorus of questions escalates and amplifies with each work in this exhibit.
The monoprint series of pietas by Amado Al Fadni (Cairo) honors citizens engaged in non-violent struggle only to be wounded and martyred by corrupt regimes such as that of the recently ousted Mubarek. Enrique Castrejon (Taxco > Los Angeles) creates explosive collages of blown up people and property in Iraq that break down visual representation and meaning, echoing the senselessness of war. Continuing an interrogation of representation, Hiro Fukawa’s (Tokyo > Tariffville) triptych of images renders the question of fact or fiction irrelevant, as we know the fate of the abandoned child depicted is all too real across cultures and time. Camille Gage ( Minneapolis) addresses the critical absence of the images we needed to see at the beginning of the Iraq War, undoing the media ban by blacking out everything except the returning flag-draped coffins. Monica Haller (Minneapolis) collaboratively authors the Veterans Book Project, a library of books that provide places or “containers” that slow down and materialize the massive number of ephemeral image files that live on veterans’ hard drives and in their heads. In pages from Dust Memories, an accordion-folded book printed on both sides, Aaron Hughes (Chicago), a former truck driver in support of combat operations and current organizer for Iraq Veterans Against War (IVAW), visualizes the repetitious cycle of ambiguous and anxious moments of deployment in Iraq. Andrew Ellis Johnson (Cortland>Pittsburgh) creates critical and contrasting equivalences between hospitals demolished in peacetime for new construction and those destroyed by militaries abroad in Gaza and Iraq in assaults against the innocent. Samina Mansuri (Karachi > Toronto) manufactures models and images of places that seem still smoldering, calling attention to our consumption of mediated representations of misery and their impact on individual and public memory. Conscious of her distance from the battleground, Rocio Rodriguez’s (Caibarién > Atlanta) intimate works attempt to resist the numbness, amnesia and other defenses that develop even after willful and frequent exposure to the documentation of war. In Shrines: Public Weapons in America, Paul Shambroom (Teaneck > Minneapolis) photographs Huey helicopters and Howitzers—weapons converted to memorials, tourist attractions, retail signage, playground equipment, and historic artifacts—leading us to consider our complex response to war and remembrance in America. In drawings from Bomb after Bomb: a Violent Cartography, elin o’Hara slavick (Rochester > Chapel Hill) records places that the USA has bombed, interrupting our optical pleasure with the recognition that the luscious color and pattern of each drawing represents the rain and stain of death and destruction. Painting motifs drawn from the art and architecture of the invaded over internets images of war torn places, my own works are gestures of remorse for what has been lost and recognition of what might be restored or reborn. In scenes of shattered dinner plates, burning warehouses, and broken melons in a bombed market, Elaine Spatz-Rabinowitz’s (New York > Cambridge) Blown to Bits series on mylar reminds us how the ordinary becomes extraordinary when threatened or eradicated by war.
These international artists envision the impact of war across generations, its terrible residue, cataclysmic loss, and calculated enactment as well as its very representation. They examine what rains down in destruction and what rises from the ashes, what painfully lingers and what we long for instead.
Susanne Slavick, 2011
ARTICLES and REVIEWS:
Art Spotlight: Commemorating a Decade of War, Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 8, 2011
Art Opening: No Glory, Secrets of the City, September 8, 2011