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

Monday, November 30, 2009

Why? #1

People are asking me why I am doing my thesis-and-beyond work to benefit Iraqi widows even though I am not Iraqi, knew no Iraqis personally when beginning this work, and have never been in a war.

I answer in a lot of ways: about my previous work, my outrage at injustice, global society where we are all neighbors, my formative years watching the Vietnam war and so on.

I woke up at 1:30AM thinking of a very old story in a new light.  When I was a boy - maybe 2nd or 4th grade - some argument ensued, resulting in me being tied for a time to a telephone pole.  I do not remember exactly what it was about, how long i was there (not long), or -most importantly - how it felt.  But I can never forget that my brother never forgave himself for letting his friends do that to me, and not stopping them.  He didn't help them or encourage them, but he didn't stop them.  I did not blame him, but he never forgot. 

I don't want my life to continue without doing something to stop injustice.  I just have trouble sleeping knowing that I haven't tried, when I have the opportunity.  Sometimes circumstances peresent themselves and we have to choose to participate or pass.  No one can fix everything, and not everything can be fixed, but it is the trying, the effort, the caring that makes life a little more worth living.   This is the opportunity.  I have the statement, the time, the support, to do this and so I must. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Francis Alys: When Faith Moves Mountains 2002

Just ran across Francis Alys, whose work When Faith Moves Mountains in 2002 involved five hundred people living in a shanty town outside Lima, Peru using shovels, one step at a time, to move a dune 4 inches.  They live in these dunes along with about 75,000 people without running water or electricity.

His words: attempts to translate social tensions into narratives that in turn intervene in the imaginal landscape of a place. The action is meant to infiltrate the local history and mythology... 
 art operates precisely within the space of myth....
In this sense, myth is not about the veneration of ideals--of pagan gods or political ideology--but rather an active interpretive practice performed by the audience, who must give the work its meaning and its social value.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lines in the Sand for US Casualties

On Veteran's Day I drew 4362 lines in the sand at Montrose Beach in Chicago, one for each war death in the current operaration in Iraq.  It felt empty, thinking about the dead, instead of the living, even though the point is that they are two sides of the same coin.  The weather was cool and the sun set while I was working.  I drew the lines in firm damp sand between a little inlet of water and the beach.  I walked in a circle, covering the whole area, until the circle got so small I was just turning around.  I had just enough room to finish, though the last few rows had shorter lines.  I planted my stick in the center and took a few pictures before packing up at dusk.  The air was crisp, cool and clear.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

This image is from icasualties.org - no contact info on entire site. But must be seen.  Also searchable lists of all coalition casualties with filters for gender/cause of death etc...  Very sad.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Black Rain

Jaber Alturfee found my Black Rain video, which is on youtube at Bodyrewired.  He said that it was very moving and sad, reminding him of the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf war, when the US and Iraqi troops were kicking up so much dust and there was a sandstorm that left black soot all over the city for two weeks.  He wasn't sure what the Black was from, the bombing, the oil and other contamination or what, but that the whole city was black until the next rain, maybe two weeks later.  He showed the video to his whole family.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Interview Without Audio

I guess we all make mistakes sometimes.  I brought a Zoom recorder, and Lav and a Beta57a, but I didn't use any of them for a short debrief after our performance.  And of course our Camera's phantom power switch got switched off in the case.  So I have video, but not audio of the discussion.

I asked if anyone had responses to the performing of the drawing of lines in the sand, and I think everyone felt some connection, to each other, to widows in Iraq, to the bystanders at the beach.  Matt said that at first he was thinking of widows being older women, but that after a while it dawned on him that many of the widows in Iraq are young, probably his age.  I think Sarah concurred.  Jaber said that it was true and that the widows came in all ages and having different economic status, and that it was very difficult, for them and their children. 

We also talked about how at times we were concentrating on the counting of the lines, but how it eventually became more of a meditation.  Jabur said that he was thinking about the faces of women he worked with in Iraq, and the promises he made to help them.  He has hope that together we can make a difference for these women.  He said that he had trouble not tearing up.

We all felt that this was moving, worthwhile and should be expanded.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Widows: Lines in the Sand 11/7/09 Action Day

Today was the first group performance of Widows: Lines in the Sand. Core Project  in conjunction with Bodyrewired and Jaber Alturfee performed and documented on the 31st Beach, covering a large portion of the beach with lines memorializing the repetitive labor of widows in Iraq.  We drew over ten thousand lines collectively while imagining (or in Jabur's case remembering the faces) of widows in desperate need of aid, stability or hope.  Many people stopped to ask us why and what we were doing, and we received a variety of responses from curious to supportive.  I have yet to encounter an angry response.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Busy, Busy

Too busy to blog right now.  Since last:
  • still have to review critique tape 
  • Went to MCA and talked with Esam Pasha, a student named Majd, and Allen Turner
  • Met with Jabur on Monday and talked about projects and life for both of us
  • Met with Paul about registration
  • Thesis class Critique
  • Planned collaborative performance with Core Project and Body Rewired for Saturday
  • Created Emily Jacir homage, installed during Art as Spiritual Pracice
  • Met with Laurie N. about work, not-for-profit, and catch-up