Exit Art wants to tell you war stories through the vision of 9 international artists. Love/War/Sex considers memory, history, weapons and personal stories. As a cultural center, it is our mission to reflect what is going on in our society. We want to respond to current global conflicts by presenting this exhibition, Love/War/Sex, a comment on our culture’s fascination with, and addiction to, war. The title itself demonstrates the paradox of what war is, a combination of emotions, passions and idealistic convictions. Love/War/Sex considers the conflation of those basic human instincts—a toxic combination manifested in images and stories coming out of Iraq. This exhibition connects longing with violence and love with war, imagining the business of war in all its sensual manifestations. War, love and sex demand the same thing – commitment, and the purpose of this exhibition is to tell the story of these relationships.
Exit Art is known for its unique exhibitions and installation designs that heighten the concepts of the shows. The installation of Love/War/Sex, conceived by Papo Colo, is an innovation in exhibition design and presentation, in part for its inclusion of real weapons of war. Choosing these objects, these “readymades”, and applying their historical contexts to the exhibition, creates an environment that provokes, surprises, assaults and confronts you with the real tools of war. They are not simply objects on display; they were intended to kill people in battle. Hearkening back to Leonardo da Vinci, who designed weapons for a living, exhibiting the weapons as art we also enjoy the extraordinary craftsmanship and design of these killing machines.
Another installation approach was to wallpaper the exhibition space with texts of personal experiences of the war. This allows the viewer/reader to evoke images from the text. Here, the force of the narrative replaces the object and gives the viewer another kind of visual imagination, creating a sacred space for meditation. Taken from newspapers, magazines and soldiers’ blogs, these chronicles make one think of war in terms of intimate personal stories.
The juxtaposition of these weapons and the wall papered texts creates a stage for the exhibition and the public. The exhibition incorporates video, sculpture, wallpaper, and a selection of weapons and military vehicles on loan from the Military Museum of Southern New England in Danbury, CT.
Jakob Boeskov, Margot Herster, Tessa Hughes-Freeland, Fawad Khan, Ellen Lake, Rebecca Loyche, Guerra de la Paz, Francesco Simeti, Nick Waplington
Jakob Boeskov’s apocalyptic video War Wizard depicts lustful soldiers and their “wizard” enemy as they invade a little boy’s dreams. The “wizard”, who embodies at once Jesus, Osama bin Laden and an Iraqi prisoner, is tortured with sex and violence by dancing soldiers. Margot Herster presents an insider view of Guantanamo politics with This is an introduction tape, a video of the families of detainees telling their relatives to trust the lawyers representing them. Referencing sports and porn as stimulants, Tessa Hughes-Freeland’s ‘educational’ video Watch Out! explains how explicit films can warp the minds of young men. Fawad Khan fuses car culture with war imagery to create a sexy but violent wall painting that evokes the chaos of a suicide bombing. Ellen Lake’s short film Betty + Johnny combines digital video and home movies shot in the 1930s and 40s to tell the story of a love lost during World War II. Rebecca Loyche’s three-channel video installation, All’s Fair in Love and War, is a disturbing portrait of a weapons specialist who teaches military personnel how to kill. The unnamed subject of the short videos describes in detail the tools and methods employed to kill during combat. Guerra de la Paz presents Crawl, a cloth sculpture of a dying soldier, and The Kiss, an intimate photograph of toy army men in an embrace. Francesco Simeti’s Watching the War combines explosion clouds and images of the war in Afghanistan to create deceptively ornate wallpaper. Nick Waplington’s photographs juxtapose images of war and the Iraqi landscape with keg parties and families in America to offer a telling glimpse into life at the war front and back at home.
Thoughts From: The land of the free and the home of the brave
We live from war to war
Our lives are marked by this time frame.
It is the price of power.
War makes freedom happen.
It confirms the human need for property love and the violence to keep it.
Marking habitat is mapping our bodies in the region of memory.
Ancestry is the space in which the spirit appears alive,
to show us that in the present, all the past is expressed in the language of conflicts.
When the theater of words fails, it is the theater of war that performs.
Countries were created because language was invented.
Sex is born with us, its execution is about power.
Transgressing each others body.
War completes these violations.
This hostility creates compassion that opens comprehension.
…Love transforms patriotism into imaginary borders
ready to be moved up to date with the powers that rule.
Sacrifice will purify that love.
Sex possesses the seed of the differences that create clash.
Love tries to balance this contradiction.
Sex is chauvinistic; love is its intelligent component.
Culture is inspiration for supremacy assisted by the military.
Art is the strategy to influence opinions and document the results.
Wart is where wars talk among themselves.
The people in charge compete for the highest arrogance,
letting us know that without weapons or great wars, there would be no great art or great
museums or big pocket philanthropies or non profit cultural centers or commercial galleries.
So far our civilization has produced great weapons
to produce great art, or vice versa.
These powers correspond and dance with history.
War images are so common they make us immune to death.
To declare war is not only an act of barbarism but a result of civilization.
These artworks are a chapter in the history of art that tell war stories.