Saturday, January 06, 2007

Boing Boing introduced me to two artists responding to the war in Iraq: Jean-Christian Bourcart, who projects photos of mutilated and dead Iraqis on American houses, churches, supermarkets and parking lots, and Sgt. Brian Turner, an infantryman in Iraq, who just published a collection of poems, Here, Bullet. Both men expose the brutal truth of the war through their work. I think art can help us access that truth more viscerally than straight reporting ever could.

Bourcart says
It was a desperate gesture: my personal protest for the lack of interest for the non-american victims. I found the images on the web. Some American soldiers post their own pictures on a website. They would show a cut leg with the caption: “where's da rest of my shit?” Or a blown up head with the caption: “need a hair cut."

I could not help thinking of those images as some kind of restless ghosts that endlessly wander in the intermediate level of the web. I took care of them like a embalmer would; downloading, revamping, printing, rephotographiing, then projecting them as if I was looking for a place where they would rest in peace and at the same time haunt those who pretend not to know what was going on.
And here is a powerful example of Turner's work:

Here, Bullet
If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta's opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you've started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel's cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue's explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.


Kit Stolz said...

For more of Brian Turner's powerful work, check out the Fall 2005 issue of The Georgia Review. Great, great stuff.

gayle said...

Wow--amazing. Thank you so much, Kit. I'm surprised I hadn't heard of him before. I'm very glad to have access to his work, now.