Art, women and war in Second Life

“This was special to me to feel the bravery of  woman soldiers,” Storie’S Helendale (GlitterPrincess Destiny) states in the introductory notes to I Was Born in Kurdistan, her latest immersive piece. “(They don’t cook in the kitchen).  (Instead they fight Isis).”

This is a difficult piece to quantify, presenting a war-torn environment as a backdrop for images depicting women caught within various combat situations, clearly drawn from the unfolding situation in Iraq. It is undoubtedly an atmospheric build – a chart at the landing point provides advice on the best viewer graphics / windlight settings for viewing it as intended.

Central to it stands the concrete skeleton of a war-torn building. Fires burn in old oil drums, the ground is rough and pitted and burned-out cars and other detritus resulting from the passage of combat are scattered around. Around the walls of this environment, and mounted in the skeletal remains of the building are images by Storie’S depicting woman in combat. Some are in traditional-look middle-eastern dress, others is more “homespun uniforms”, others in combat fatigues.

The mix of images presents both colour and monochrome pieces, with the content ranging from actually scenes of combat, through scenes from the aftermath of fighting to very personal scenes of comrades supporting one another or combat veterans simply trying to get some respite and rest.

Since is the approach taken to the piece, that interpreting it is a very subjective affair. There is no doubting that many of them do echo the privations and sadness of war; there is a subtle condemnation of the suffering it brings present in many of the images.  But this seems to be somewhat offset by an uncomfortable sense that women in combat is being celebrated to a degree.

While there are – sadly – time in this world when the only recourse is for people to take up arms and stand against the forces which would otherwise overwhelm them and their way of life. To be clear, I Was Born in Kurdistan is more a reflection of this than anything else; but the “celebratory” aspect of some of the images might give rise to a negative reaction among some visitors.

I was born in Kurdistan

I was born in Kurdistan

However, it is these juxtapositions of viewpoints and emotions which makes I Was Born in Kurdistan an installation which needs to be seen directly, rather than simply related through a blog post like this. There is currently no closing date stated for the exhibition, which opened on July 9th; I would anticipate it remaining open for at least a month.

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