art where you’d least expect to find it…

Unofficial war art? War zone street art? Even if you’re familiar with the work of recent official Australian war artists (for example, in war zones, Charles Green and Lyndell Brown, or Shaun Gladwell, and in peacekeeping zones, Jon Cattapan and eX de Medici) you’re unlikely to have seen what the soldiers themselves are up to. Only from George Gittoes’ movies (notably Soundtrack to War, shot in Iraq in 2004) do we gain some sense of the culture of everyday life for members of the armed services in such arenas as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Unofficial war art is another thing altogether. Here we see the work of the stencil artist ZEROSIX downtown in the Kandahar ISAF base. While you might say that the work of the official war artists is largely a matter of matching their highly protected experiences of being embedded against their existing personal styles and strategies, in this case it is the vernacular of street artists like Banksy and others which provides a set of visual conventions for ZEROSIX and others to work with.

David Fincher’s 1999 film Fight Club – based on a 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk – created the character Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt), who is also ambiguously the narrator of the film. While Fincher makes no claims for Tyler’s beliefs – “[the] movie couldn’t be further from offering any kind of solution” –  here ZEROSIX revisits Tyler’s values in a much more challenging context.

The Kandahar base is a massive fortress housing approximately 30,000 personnel. Its incongruous village-like atmosphere (the boardwalk, the fast food franchises) was criticised last year by the “notoriously sober” General Stanley McChrystal, who was reported as having said: “This is a war zone – not an amusement park.” Closing the fast-food outlets was an unpopular decision, since reversed. However it’s not so surprising that in any community of this size you will find at least a couple of artists. In this otherwise bleak environment, it’s probably the only mode of creative release available. That 06’s street art – or his tag – is permitted at all is itself unexpectedly humane.


#1 Stonzy69 on 04.02.11 at 10:05 pm

Love your work mate – keep it up as it add some nice colour to the place.

#2 vanessa on 04.04.11 at 4:08 pm

‘you are the same organic decaying matter as everything else’
that’s my kinda statement

#3 MP on 04.04.11 at 11:55 pm

Been photographing these all around KAF. Awesome, thanks.

#4 Shayne on 04.06.11 at 10:39 am

Keep the art coming. I am on KAF right now and would love to find more everyday.

#5 byrd on 04.06.11 at 1:07 pm

My understanding (from others in direct conversation with these war(ar)ist’s) is that most images are tolerated, but cuss words bring intervention.

#6 Generation Chill | The Art Life on 04.08.11 at 9:37 am

[…] x-post courtesy of our friends at Iconophilia. Thanks! Tagged as: street art, war art, […]

#7 ampersand duck on 04.08.11 at 10:54 am

Looks good; could do without the gratuitous female imagery, but what can you expect from what is basically a sprainting practice?

#8 Nigel on 04.09.11 at 8:09 am

this is how it was in 2007:

#9 Nicole Moore on 05.02.11 at 9:15 pm

From Justin Clemens in Overland:

“The extraordinary Boris Groys notes that, before the invention of modern media, ‘the warrior and artist were mutually dependent. The artist needed the warrior as a topic for art. But the warrior needed the artist even more. After all, the artist could always find another, more peaceful topic for his or her work. But only an artist was able to bestow fame on the warrior and to secure this fame for generations to come … in our time the situation has changed drastically: The contemporary warrior no longer needs an artist to acquire fame and inscribe his feats into the universal memory. By pushing a button that explodes a bomb a contemporary warrior or terrorist pushes a button that starts the media machine’, Art Power, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2008, p. 121. As Groys continues, artists just can’t compete with this technological transformation; even worse, ‘beyond this, the terrorists and warriors themselves are beginning to act as artists. Video art especially has become the medium of choice for contemporary warriors’, p. 122.

#10 Nathan Hudson on 07.26.11 at 6:24 pm

Come to FOB bullard!

#11 Nigel on 07.26.11 at 7:21 pm

FOB Bullard in Zabul Province? Send us some snaps?

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