January 29, 2015

Permanent War: The Age of Global Conflict

School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University
Claire Beckett, Marine Lance Corporal Nicole Camala
Veen playing the role of an Iraqi nurse in the town of
Wadi Al-Sahara, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat
Center, CA from the Simulating Iraq Series
, 2008.*

Beginning January 29, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s (SMFA) presents Permanent War: The Age of Global Conflict, guest curated by Pamela Allara. The exhibition features 16 artists exploring the complex nature of warfare—from the devastation of the “the war to end all wars” (WWI) and the everyday life of active and veteran soldiers to the dubious techniques used for extracting information and unmanned drone attacks of today’s military.

Organized into five themes, Permanent War opens with a drawing by SMFA faculty Paul Stopforth, Empire Building (2003), a metaphor for “empire builders” throughout history who chose occupation over engagement.

Mechanized Bodies features Adam Harvey’s photographs of his Anti-Drone Wear (2013), clothing designed to hide the wearer from heat detecting technologies; Paul Emmanuel’s film 3SAI: A Rite of Passage (2008), which explores the construction of masculinity of military recruits; SMFA faculty Ken Hruby’s installation Short Arm Inspection (1993), which plays off the military slang referring to the medical inspection of male soldiers’ genitalia; and Trevor Paglen’s video Drone Vision (2010), which permits us to see governmental secrecy in action.

Combat as Performance includes SMFA faculty Claire Beckett’s photographic seriesSimulating Iraq” (2010), which explores fabricated Iraqi and Afghani “villages” designed to prepare US soldiers for guerilla-style combat; Lamia Joreige’s video installation Replay (2000), which reflects on the Lebanese civil wars and Israel/Hezbollah conflicts; and Coco Fusco’s video Operation Atropos (2006), which chronicles Fusco’s participation in an immersive workshop led by former US military interrogators.

Living in a War Zone brings together Jamal Penjweny’s video Another World (2013), which documents Iraqi men forced to earn money through smuggling operations, with photographs and books by SMFA faculty Bill Burke which chronicle his trips to Southeast Asia in search of members of the Khmer Rouge.

Conflict as Media Entertainment features photographs from Mark Tribe’s project Rare Earth (2012), which explores the paramilitary fantasies of combat video games; Harun Farocki’s video installation Serious Games II: Three Dead (2010), which delves into topics of technology, politics, and coercion; and Richard Mosse’s Killcam (2008), which intercuts footage of video game-playing Iraqi war veterans with footage of actual bombing missions, merging reality with simulacra.

Landscape as Cemetery includes visual artist Sig Bang Schmidt and poet Steve Dalachinsky’s collaborative project The Great War (WWI) (2002–14); select photographs from SMFA alumnus Matthew Arnold’s “Topography as Fate” series (2014), which documents battlefields from WWII’s North African campaign; and SMFA faculty Bonnie Donohue’s photographs from “Vieques: A Long Way Home” (2006) and “Reclaiming Vieques: Memory and Imagination (Vieques, Puerto Rico)” (2014), which examine the US Navy’s 60-year occupation of Vieques as a military base and bombing range.

Related events
February 2, 12:30pm: Artist talks with SMFA faculty Bill Burke + Bonnie Donohue
February 12, 6:30pm: Curatorial presentation + tour with curator Pamela Allara
February 19, 6:30pm: Reading by poet Steve Dalachinsky
February 23, 12:30pm: Artist talks with SMFA faculty Claire Beckett + Ken Hruby


About the curator
Pamela Allara is an art historian, curator, and critic. The author of a monograph on Alice Neel, Allara taught modern and contemporary art for many years at Tufts University and Brandeis University. She is currently a Visiting Researcher in the African Studies Center at Boston University.



*Image: Claire Beckett, Marine Lance Corporal Nicole Camala Veen playing the role of an Iraqi nurse in the town of Wadi Al-Sahara, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, CA from the Simulating Iraq Series, 2008. Archival ink jet print. Courtesy of the artist and Carroll and Sons Gallery, Boston.

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