Widowsweave is an awareness raising series of performances highlighting the conditions of Iraqi Widows who often struggle to acquire even basic necessities such as clean water or adequate shelter. Through artistic durational activities the artist and public participants mark 3,000,000 lines representing the number of Iraqi widows from 30 years of war, tyranny and sanctions.


Kevin Valentine will have three new pieces in the Faculty Show at North Central College, Naperville. The reception is April 8th, from 6-8

Friday, September 25, 2009

Meeting with Annette B. 9/16

We talked about the Interactive Department, and I explained my piece, showing some images and some of the video on the blogs.  I told her that I was thinking on not having any technology in my exhibit, which she said was very brave.

I then of course by dinner drew an exhibit (now changed again) that incorporated a video screen in the wall.  She said (as did Mel) that she would be interested in working with me even if I didn't pick her for the "committee", which is very generous.

Meeting with Mel P. 9/16

We talked about strategies to continue working, like grant writing and positioning work to get it shown after graduation. I explained some of my new ideas to her about the room and we discussed simplicity and a clear vision.


Eduardo Kac Telepresence kac.org
Genelle Baxor: Generative & Algorithmic art?
Ars Electronica
Indira Freitas Johnson: Evanston artist
Wafaa Bilal: at SAIC www.wafaabilal.com

New Project Description

Widows: Lines in the Sand will be a participatory installation with durational inhabited performance components to include video and/or object-based elements and artist-audience cooperation resulting in the drawing of three million lines to commemorate widows in Iraq.

The exhibit will consist of an entry room, symbolizing loss, with real and mediated “lines in the sand.” Video projection will portray the sand lines on the floor, while a central element, filled with sand will have lines drawn in it by the artist and participating audience members.

A second room with all black surfaces is to be chalked with white lines over the duration of the exhibit. These white lines, representing hope, drawn by viewers and the artist will cover all surfaces of the room including the floor and ceiling.

This fusion of media, installation, performance and interactivity, comprising this memorial to the living victims of three decades of war in Iraq, aspires to heal wounds through awareness, empathy, advocacy and hope.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Meeting with Paul

Paul talked about the inherent futility in the drawing of lines in the sand.  We talked about how drawing the lines in public incorporates and element of risk - one never knows how the public will react.  Paul loved the fact that the guard on the beach just came up and drove over the lines at Oxbow.

We talked about what the exhibit will be: monument, ritual.

Think about:
What is show?
What does show?

Make a funtionality list from potential functions of the room.  I can change what I do.  I can schedule what I do.
  • Change how I work on the lines - gesture
  • Panel discussions
  • rituals
  • cermonies
  • headquarters for fundraising
  • switch up objecthood and performativity and participation
Sara Schnadt
"What We Want is Free" Ted Purves, ed.
"Unmonumental" show - rhisome: (newmuseum.org) Nina Katchadourian
"America's Army" - Joseph DeLappe goes into game and starts reciting till he gets blown away.
New Media Caucus

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pile of Sand: Another Fundraising-Exhibit Idea

A Mountain of Sand, Blown Away:  1,500 people bring to a gallery two liter bottles (or 3,000 people bring one liter bottles) and climb a ladder to funnel the sand into a mountain of sand.   3,000,000 cubic centimeters of sand will pile on the floor. A single pedestal fan aimed at the sand plows it in a pattern across the floor for the duration of the exhibit.
Each participant pays a certain amount which is collected for the Widows of Iraq.

There is now 3 tons of sand on the gallery floor.  Therefore a contractor or volunteers be to be prearranged to dispose of the sand.

Another way to do this is on a beach where the sand can remain.  A fan may or may not be required.


Just as there is no end to human suffering, there is no end to human compassion.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Widows Project Ideas

These are sketches for three separate projects around the Widows work.

The first is a reverse lighting situation, of the interactive book/video - triggered by infra-red and lit from inside (below) the book.

The second project is a variation of the projected piece, to be projected on a brick wall outside, with multiple layers of me drawing alone with a live performance of the chalk piece.

This third sketch is the first rendition of my thesis project, involving a simple black room, with a black bar or trough, filled with black sand.  Drawing in the black sand represents the futility and grief.  The darkness.  Perhaps a fan slowly blows away the lines, smoothing out the marks.  the walls, ceiling, floor are covered in a sand paint that will hold chalk line.  Over the duration of the exhibit, lines will be added to the entire surface of the room, creating a lightness out of the dark.  If possible the light will slowly increase in the room, until it becomes all lightness, perhaps blindingly light.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

War Panel at CAA 2009

New Media Caucus' page on works related to the war in Iraq: Mail Away: War Correspondence at Home and Online.
Artists create/ hack video games to comment on the human and political costs of the War. Check out Joseph DeLappe's piece which uses the America's Army recruiting on-line war game to Memorialize American troops lost in Iraq.

Cross-Cultural Art: IRUS

An exciting art work/collective between artists in Iran and American artists from Denver has a representative in a new Interarts and Media program graduate student, Morehshin.  The work is entitled IRUS for Iran and US.  I will talk to her about the work more this week when I see her. 

Research Unrecorded

I've been remiss in not talking about theory of late.  Relational Aesthetics (Bourriaud)  has lots of points I want to discuss soon, as well as some things I've begun reading in two other books: Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art by Grant Kester and Collectivism After Modernism: The Art of Social Imagination After 1945, Blake Stimson and Gregory Sholette, Ed.  All three books deal with art which involves the audience in completing the pieces, art which can only be understood as it effects an environmental or group dynamic, not as individual art objects.

Hopefully I will get to writing some of this down this week.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

800,000 pages for Rwanda

William Snyder III manages an art project to commemorate the 800,000 Rwandan's killed in 100 days in 1994.  One page for each person, bearing the muddy prints of participants around the world, are sown into 250 books displayed in 100 crates, one for each day of the war. The participants also have raised milions for the Rwandan The Kayinamura Foundation.  

This bears great resemblance to what I am trying to achieve with my thesis work on Iraq.  It's a wonderful actualization of such a horrific and inconceivable number.

Iraq Veterans Swap Weapons for Art/BBC News

American Veterans turning uniforms into sculptural paper works with poetry. Weapons for Art

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ideas for Thesis Show

A truly successful memorial to living widows should invite interactivity to facilitate healing and community building.  It would have artifacts testifying to the activity of the Lines in the Sand (or Lines on a Chalkboard) project, an element of line drawing activity, documentation and, as a measure of its sincerity and efficacy, a foundation to support widows in some concrete way.

The question is not what can I do for thesis, but what can I do for my thesis show?  The Lines in the sand is undoubtedly a powerful metaphor, as is the chalkboard grid... and the idea of raising awareness, empathy and advocacy (and money) for Iraqi war widows, but what will make the most effective, powerful show.

I've been lying in bed thinking about all the possibilities which present themselves.  I could of course retreat to performing the chalkboard, but I'd rather do that at shows during the year in galleries.  Cliff M. asked, how do I show the Lines in the Sand? I cannot cart in tons of sand (though that might be fun), but the alternatives are equally fun.

It reminds me of an earlier blogpost about a Widows Memorial.  Cities, countries have veterans memorials - but what about Widows Memorials?  What would they look like?  They would have to be meditative spaces, oasis from work and commerce - peaceful.  They should be places of healing, and places to activate healing or closure or outpouring of emotion.  But isn't that what some memorials do already?  So I would say that they should invite interactivity.

A truly successful memorial to living widows should invite interactivity to facilitate healing and community building.  It would have artifacts testifying to the activity of the Lines in the Sand (or Lines on a Chalkboard) project, an element of line drawing activity, documentation and, as a measure of its sincerity and efficacy, a foundation to support widows in some concrete way.

Artifacts could include: a chalkboard, a sandpaper-board or sandpaper-floor, with sticks of chalk or paint to draw with, a sandblasted window over  video-documentation which activates through sensors when drawn on with sticks or pounded bamboo brushes (still sticks). Artifacts can also be a pile of sticks used to draw the three million lines or bronze castings of those sticks.  There can be piles of used chalk and chalkdust.  There could be a bench made from the sticks or the stick-castings.  There can be castings of the lines in the sand done in plaster or metal.

People should be able to draw lines in any of the ways above.  And tally them.

Video or still imagery should document the process. Or drawings.

There should be links to charitable opportunities, suggestions of ways to help, links to pertinent information or the project's website and charitable fund.

Thesis Class: Week 1

The following are Susan's notes from my mini-presentation for our first Thesis class, week one:

Widows: awareness, (elicit) empathy (for the number of widows in Iraq), advocacy. Variations: Chalk lines on chalkboard, interactive book, commemorative book, video performance with chalkboard. Ethereal white lines that build up, layer and get wiped out. Lines in the Sand: silkscreen double-sided banners, drew lines in sand. Community action days to have people help draw 3 million lines over a period of a year. Meditative, emotional, remember to count. Local, national, international effort. This piece is no longer about me. Starting with my idea, but has been advocacy art. How to frame it in such a way we can see the effect of it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Widows Empowerment Project

It's disheartening how hard it is to locate any charitable organization actually working with the issue of Widows in Iraq.  I may have finally found a match in the Iraq Foundation's Widows Empowerment Project which trains widows in vocational skills, such as sowing, and educates them as to their rights under Iraqi and international law.  This is the most promising project I've seen to date - even if it has only touched a few hundred women to date, in a couple of cities.  Wonderful work.

On the other hand, Sourcewatch lists the Iraq Foundation as a Neo-liberal group founded by bankers to help make post-(2003)war Iraq look better-off and grateful to the US for its intervention.

So, great work, but much political baggage.  I wonder what educating them as to their rights really means?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Can't Miss This!

Great news of a new show regarding Iraq coming to
 Chicago's MCA in October.  I can't wait!
Jeremy Deller invites experts and concerned parties to inhabit the gallery and discuss issues pertaining to Iraq.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Body Revisited

Bodyrewired met yesterday to catch up on summer news/thesis ideas/past projects/Bonesbare3 ideas.
It's going to be a busy but exciting year.  For Core Project's Bonesbare, we discussed humor and decided to try to have ourselves in public places wearing masks we make of ourselves.  We can wear our own or switch.  We only have about a month to come up with a rough edit of all footage, so it will be a real challenge, but it should be funny at least!