July 30, 2014

Defusing the Air Strike

We see people turn to combat, to rhetoric, to reason or to faith as a way to channel the screaming horror of bombardment. What we don’t encounter that often – at least not that publicly or, certainly, in real time, however – is the turning to art. These re-worked news images from random Palestinians gaining attention these days make me appreciate how much war is monopolized by the extremists. That’s in comparison to so many citizens caught in between with the capacity – as these images evidence – to  grapple and contend rather than crumple or collapse.

The images are a balm (b-a-l-m) – and a counterpoint – to both the raw spectacle and the numbing (visual) repetition of rocket launches, aerial intercepts, vapor trails and awesome urban explosions wallpapering the daily news slideshows. A conflict photographer who shall remain nameless — an author of some number of all this media ordnance — dropped the Bag’s feed a week or so ago after we too cleverly tweeted on the rich diet of missile and bombing scenes that day. Still, I couldn’t capture resilience under duress more eloquently than these illustrations. When there’s no real estate left to retreat to, there’s still the territory of the imagination.

In that space, the impetus for these drawings, I believe, is to handle it by just taking over the bloody hell. And from there, how the photo is owned is up to the artist to animate. Nothing more dehumanizing and testosterone-charged than the site of a massive urban air strike, you say?

Encase it.

Put a face to it.

Give heart to it.

Give gender to it.

Affix all your hopes and dreams to it. And, build the monument now.

(photos 1a/b, 2a and 3a: unattributed)

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


A curated collection of pieces related to our most-popular subject matter.


Comments Powered by Disqus