Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Eyes Wide Shut/Eyes Wide Open

When it comes to the REAL costs of WAR, are Americans' eyes wide open or wide shut?

Have you heard about the "boots exhibit" "Eyes Wide Open," which I saw with friends in Austin this afternoon? "Eyes Wide Open" is sponsored by a Quaker group, the American Friends Service Committee. It travels next to Dallas, then to Los Angeles.

"Eyes Wide Open" is like a cemetery of about 2400 pairs of shoes, laid out neatly in rows on an open grassy area. The immediate sight of the display seems like a stunt, but soon the effect echoes and resonates and deepens toward that of a graveyard, and that's the idea. What seems at first a curious and strange arrangement gains of military boots and civilian shoes representing the American and Iraqi deaths resulting from what I must insist on calling the American war in Iraq.

As of February 15, 2005: 1462 military dead, 269 American contractors and service professionals, and between 14,000 and perhaps as many as 100,000 Iraqi citizens.

We - many Americans - would like to think that our investment of tax dollars and machinery and effort and trouble and misfortune and lives on both sides would be a good investment for a good cause - that our choice to start a war would slow or end the mistreatment and murder of Iraqis, but in fact, the death rate in Iraq has tripled since the coalition forces (90% American) launched this war March 20, 2003. Before that date, the top three causes of death amongst Iraqis were natural causes. Now the top cause is violent death by military action.

The costs are clear, or are they? This symbolic display intends to add some focus and clarity to those costs, in a visually poetic way, apparently merely curious to some visitors, wistful to others and heart-breaking to some.

1 Comments:

At 2/17/2005 8:33 AM, Anonymous RQ said...

This installation of boots was very chilling. The name tags, the pictures, the news articles, the momentos brought home the loss of lives and the waste. It opened my eyes.

 

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