May 31, 2009

American Graft

Most definitely, read the BLDGBLOG interview with Richard Mosse on his photo-documentation of Saddam’s palaces (and see his slideshow here).

In recording the fate of the palaces, Mosse’s images largely relate how these structures have turned into crash pads by and for the U.S. occupation. While the contrast between our touches and Saddam’s are curious, however, what interests me more is how the American occupation — by way of the Pottery Barn rule — has grafted America onto Iraq, embedding our fingerprints in a more psychic way.

For example, I like how this royal blue U.S. office is encased inside Al-Faw Palace like a tumor. With that metal framing and the dark blue horizontal line, the box creates its own strange, parallel and assertive dialogue with the marble lines in the floor and the swirling geometry of the ceiling. And then, notice how Saddam’s chandelier echoes the circular emblem of American mission and corp.

The space is neither “ours” nor “theirs” anymore, but some new mutation.

(image: Richard Mosse, Al-Faw Palace, Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq 2009)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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