The Occupation of Iraq
The Iraq war is a deeply disturbing and difficult subject for many veterans. For me, it was the beginning of my personal struggle with my identity, my political views, and the meaning of U.S. military occupations. Four months after the United States invaded Iraq, I went to basic training to begin four years in the U.S. Air Force where I was told I could practice photography. I was told by a drill instructor during training that “weapons of mass destruction” were found in Iraq. Months later, I learned that many of the things I had been told about the war were false, and that the media too, had lied.
The information we rely on to understand the war is often difficult to trust. Each of us must piece together a story of the occupation of Iraq using the limited information we are given. The information used to create this series of photographs is completely appropriated and reorganized into a model.
By representing current events along with acts of political resistance, my work is designed to address the deceptive corporate power structure, their media, and their wars. My work visualizes contemporary and historic events – and the people’s movements associated with them.
In order to accurately represent and serve the interests of their subjects, the artist must be rooted in their struggle. My experiences as a military veteran and a grassroots organizer are essential to informing my political consciousness and inspiring my work. The artist/activist hears the chants of the anti-war protestors, and the screams of military occupation, translating them into a visual representation for the total community.
Using appropriation and collage, my pieces alter the intent of the corporate media and entertainment in favor of one that better represents reality as it is known to the people, the Iraqis and the Americans directly affected by the occupation. These images are a result of the conflict between corporate power and people power, between the interests of corporate mass media, and authentic culture that originates in the community.
The creative arts have been separated from their community origins for the purpose of trying to sell them to those who can afford to pay for them. With the vast majority of media and entertainment being owned by a small handful of corporate elites, only a narrow definition of culture is allowed to be displayed, just as only a narrow definition of events is ever published in the mass media.
Returning war veterans have been shut out by the corporate mass media when they returned to the U.S.A. with stories of indiscriminate killing and mass deception. As an activist, and veteran, I am taking up the tools I have through art to tell the stories that are ignored or misrepresented by the corporate press. I hope to bring attention to the stories of those who are speaking out and fighting back.