Exhibition: April 20-June 2, 2012:
Tiroler Künstlerschaft, Rennweg 8, Innsbruck, Austria
Photo by WEST.Fotostudio



A video work created from edited YouTube videos filmed and uploaded by Soldiers  stationed  in  Camp  Victory  in  Iraq,  is shown alongside  a  script  for  a  stage  play, which  provides  a  segueway  into  the  collective consciousness the videos materialized from.

The clips show soldiers lip-syncing to pop music, playing pranks on each other and blowing things up. They use machine guns as air guitars, balance a bulldozer on two wheels and bust out spontaneous choreographies when waving cars through a checkpoint. The scenarios are uncanny, disturbing even, and yet, they take away a certain degree of the dehumanizing force of war: The soldiers, oscillating between extreme stress and absolute boredom, behave very human. All too human. It is we, maybe, who are not comfortable with thinking of soldiers as people. It is indeed easier to maintain a distance and speak of soldiers in terms of numbers, and of wars in terms of costs. 

While the videos document a significant aspect of daily reality for the young men, it also provides some insight into their urge to leave a mark. With the clips, they signal to their loved ones that they are alive and well, and at the same time ensure that there would be some kind of personal documentation of their lives in Iraq, available on the World Wide Web. We can thus consider the video work to be a historical document, while the accompanying script, which takes off with a dialogue on the Spanish Civil War and dictatorships, seeks to consider the phenomena of social consciousness, coined by French sociologist Émile Durkheim: “The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society forms a determinate system with a life of its own. It can be termed the collective or creative consciousness.” With simple interventions, this work challenges the societal conditioning and evokes questions on the presentation and reception of war.

(Hili Person, 2012)

> > view Prologue pdf
> > video excerpt