Friday, November 9, 2012

windows and mirrors

I stumbled upon the short clip above today when I was researching war and art for an upcoming class that I will be teaching, War and Violence. The clip above shows the murals of American artists and the drawings of Afghan children whose work is part of a traveling exhibit, Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan.  These artists' visual images challenge the sanitizing of war and its one-sided representation, and reveal the embodied, material, and psychological effects of war.

At this time of the year, art such as that which is part of the Windows and Mirrors exhibit, plays a very important role in opening our eyes and minds to see beyond the commonplace. In a warrior nation like Canada, for example, Remembrance Day becomes a site of building nationalist sentiment through nostalgia and 'honoring the veterans' that, in effect, does the work of supporting a neo-liberal pro-military security state by erasing other stories of pain, death, suffering, and trauma.

Here's what Jamie Swift writes about Canada's increasing turn to militarization--even while it has "wrapped up" its "mission" in Afghanistan:

Harper not only agreed to fulfil the outgoing government's promise to increase defence spending by over $12.8 billion over five years, but committed an additional $5.3 billion to an unprecedented increase in the military budget. Under Harper, Canadian military spending attained its highest level since 1945, exceeding even the levels attained in the Cold War. The $492-billion Canada First Defence Strategy: A Modern Military for the Twenty-First Century (CFDS), first introduced in 2008, linked vastly enhanced military spending to an increasingly abstract notion of "Canadian values."
The mural below, which is from Windows and Mirrors, caught my eye as it speaks a universal language of death and genocide, of violent death piling up, of homes being demolished, of lives being destroyed. It speaks the language of trauma across many landscapes, beyond Afghanistan, to Palestine, Bosnia, Rwanda.  

Janet Braun-Reinitz, The women see through a different lens.

Brooklyn, NY

Yeats was right.
"The blood-dimmed tide is loosed."

On the ground
limbs, corpses,
the debris of lives destroyed.
The deafening report of officials
drowns out simple truths.

The artist imagines differently.
"Mere anarchy is loosed upon the land."
The imperative is clear.

The women see through a different lens.


Merche Pallarés said...

Very interesting post. I'm appalled to know what Canada spends on military "toys" i.e., "killing toys". Hugs, M.

northshorewoman said...

I should look up what is happening in Spain. Do you have an increased militarization and security state apparatus?

Merche Pallarés said...

Spain is going down the drain... With the neo-con government that we have, and, yes, we have more militarization and security apparatus but what's worse is that they're dismantling the welfare state we've had until now. They want to privatize our wonderful social security/health care system. They're governing for the rich only and I don't know how long Spaniards put up with this... Hugs, M.

northshorewoman said...

oh, it seems that our PM is visiting with your govt and sharing ideas. They have the same plans for dismantling social services and the public sector. Their mantra is privatize, re-structure and turn a blind eye.