R&R(...&R), 2006 - 2011

All works in this series are gouache on archival digital print on Hahnemühle paper.

Structures, both physical and social, come undone when we resort to violence. Responding to the ongoing disasters of war and the policies and conditions that lead to them, artists can condone or condemn. The challenge lies in finding a constructive stance. The R&R(…&R) project counters art historical and contemporary media representations of war with restorative interventions. Its title converts the military abbreviation for “rest and recuperation” to titles like “regret and restitution.”

R&R(…&R) culls images of regeneration from the art and architecture of areas in current or recent conflict. Referring to scenes of daily life, construction and cultivation, I paint passages of resurgence (from the workshops of Persian miniaturist Bihzâd to the court arts of Safavid Iran) over photographic scenes of devastation across Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East.  Sources for these contemporary scenes are “documentary” images found on the internet — from military and news media sites, FLICKR and Webshots, and blogs by soldiers and others in the midst of war. 

I am not deluded that these “restorations” offer any actual balm, but hope that they induce an empathic unsettlement, that they pose questions about our complicity in, as well as our seemingly miraculous recovery from, incomprehensible and often self-inflicted destruction.