1 & 2) Male
1) US soldiers serving honorably in the military.
2) US war atrocities (click for image).
3 & 4) Abstraction (drawing from photo – click for image)
3) Art at it’s most pure.
4) Art at it’s most empty.
5 & 6) Female (collage from Hustler and Portland Monthly Magazines)
5) Positive reward from the publication of likeness. Money / promotion / appreciation of beauty etc.
6) Exploitation of likeness to sell something. Pleasure / lifestyle / consumer items.
7 & 8) Me
7) Making art.
8) Indulging negative obsessions.
9 & 10) You
In 2015, I was looking for source material for my next body of work and considered using photojournalism, and combat photography. After some online research I ran into a Rolling Stone article titled “The Kill Team: How U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan Murdered Innocent Civilians.” I quickly decided this was worth exploring and discovered there was a documentary on the subject (“The Kill Team”  currently available via Amazon Prime). Instead of “winning hearts and minds” American soldiers were brutally murdering innocent people, again. The connection with my ongoing exploration of the positive vs. negative sides of ourselves was obvious.
I gathered all the images I could relating to these war atrocities, and began doing ink drawings based on them. I realized that just creating drawings from these photos was pretty limiting, so I made them as abstract as possible. I have an ambivalent relationship with abstraction, so I try to push myself in that direction as often as possible. After a few weeks, I filled a sketchbook with my Kill Team drawings. I thought that since the subject of these images was primarily male I would counterbalance them with collages of female faces. I had been doing collages from Hustler Magazine, and Portland Monthly, for a while, and I used those as a first step in this new series. The “negative” half of one face from popular pornography, and the “positive” half of a face from a local lifestyle publication. I glued the collage to a 10 x 8″ sheet of watercolor paper. Then, I picked a Kill Team drawing that looked like it would complement the collage and re-drew it, with changes including scratching with blades, sandpaper, etc., on the watercolor paper. Usually, the last step was a tiny action painting on top of the collage, and drawing.
One last aspect of this series was the text I decided to use in the artists’ book. I wanted to expand on the ten points I touched on in my statement, and found quotes that did the job. Each quote corresponds to the numbers in my original statement. The one quote source I would like to single out is the film “Winter Soldier” (1972) about Vietnam war atrocities. I highly recommend this documentary, as it takes on an aspect of that war that is not talked about often. Maybe if the military learned from these mistakes there never would have been a “Kill Team.” War is horrible enough without the utterly unnecessary murder of civilians. I would like to think that, in 2019, the U.S. Military is above that. Considering the Trump factor, I am not optimistic.
-Jonathan Canady, 2019