Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Low Estimate was exhibited at the Iraq History Project Arts Festival at Depaul University in Chicago. This panel consists of over 118,000 circles painted to represent the United Nations low estimate of 500,000 child deaths related to sanctions against Iraq. The remaining memorial circles will be painted on additional panels. This panel could not accommodate all 500,000 due to drying time of the acrylic paint and date of the exhibit. There are 15-20 or more layers of tightly overlapped circles and spirals on this panel covering evidence of earlier circles, patterns and designs. We cannot see all 118,000 simultaneously. Their inscription is obliterated by new layers, creating a thick mottled textured panel of irregular thickness in an oily gloss.
The festival included a panel discussion on activist art, and one which included two attorneys for Guantanamo detainees. Earlier in the week, I joined two other artists in a panel discussion discussing our work related to Iraq. There were a total of 17 artists involved in the Art Festival, all responding to the Iraq History Project's archive of testimony by perpetrators, victims and witnesses of torture in Iraq from 1968-2008.
I chose to respond to Law Law's story which involved her recording names and deaths at her family home, as they helped bury children who died around the time of the Anfal campaign in the late eighties. When still a school girl, she was able to orchestrate the reuniting of a father and son who were able to escape the country. This was before the sanctions, or around the time the sanctions began. My piece continues her work of documenting the deaths of children with a series of memorial paintings.
(The UN high estimate is 1.2 million)