Willie Cole, The Difference between Black and White,
2005-6. Shoes, wood, metal, screws, and staples, 85 x 16″.
ST. LOUIS, MO – War and disaster have profoundly shaped the opening years of the 21st century. In the United States and abroad, acts of violence and terrorism as well as natural catastrophes have resulted in large-scale destruction and displacement affecting the lives of millions. In February, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis will present On the Margins, an exhibition exploring the impact of war and disaster through the work of a diverse range of contemporary artists. Curated by Carmon Colangelo — a nationally known printmaker as well as dean of the university’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts — the exhibition will showcase more than a dozen works, ranging from prints and photographs to video and large-scale installations, by ten artists from around the world.
Several installations play against traditional approaches to war memorial. For example, Fallen (2004-ongoing), by the American artist Jane Hammond, comprises a large field of brightly colored leaves, each bearing the name of a soldier killed in Iraq. Similarly elegiac is Metal Jacket (1992/2001), by South Korea’s Do-Ho Suh, which consists of 3000 dog tags stitched to the liner of a U.S. military jacket. Abidin Travels: Welcome to Baghdad (2006), an interactive video installation by the Iraqi expatriate Adel Abidin, allows viewers to become virtual tourists amidst the wreckage of his native Baghdad.
In conjunction with the exhibition MFA candidates Carianne Noga, Dan Solberg, Erica Millspaugh and I assumed the role of travel agents assisting museum visitors in arranging their virtual flight Baghdad aboard a B52.