Justseeds is proud to release our third print portfolio – the Justseeds-Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) “War is Trauma” portfolio. Today’s date is significant. On March 19, 2003 the US launched the Iraq War under the guise of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nine years later we are still living under the shadow of an illegal war and an illegal occupation. The cost of war has been $802 billion and counting. However, financial costs mean little compared to human costs. The Iraq War has claimed the lives of over 113,000 Iraqi civilians and the Afghanistan War has claimed the lives of over 12,500 civilians. In both conflicts over 4,500 US soldiers have been killed and over 32,000 US soldiers have been wounded. The toll of war on GI’s has been intense. With the poor economy and no draft, service members have been pushed to their limits. Many have served multiple tours of duty. Some figures from the IVAW “Operation Recovery” booklet:
-The military suicide rate has increased 150% from 2001 to 2009.
-20% to 50% of all service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD.
-A third of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan say they can’t see a mental health professional when they need to.
-Nearly 20% of service members are taking some type of psychiatric drug.
-The number of US troops injured by roadside bombs in Afghanistan increased by 178% from 2009-2010.
-1 in 3 women are raped while serving in the military.
Though the US has withdrawn troops from Iraq, the war continues through a privatization of the military. For-profit military contractors continue to occupy Iraq and the US maintains military bases in the country. The war continues in Afghanistan and the war drum to attack Iran grows louder. In the US, the culture of militarism continues unabated, as does the economic dependency on the military-industrial complex for many communities that surround military bases. In short, we live in a perpetual state of war when the US continues to spend over 50% of all tax money on senseless military budgets. In this climate, violence, state power, and corporate dominance thrives while education, health care, public services and the environment suffers.
It is in this context that we release the War is Trauma portfolio and companion website as an urgent call to support the veterans and service members movement for human rights and to end the ongoing wars and occupations. Justseeds and IVAW are proud to collaborate together to build a creative movement that supports the Operation Recovery campaign – a campaign that was launched by IVAW on October 7, 2010 to end the deployment of traumatized troops and win service members and veterans right to heal.
Collaboration with IVAW is not new to Justseeds. In November of 2010, Justseeds did a street art action in Chicago where various prints (some of which are included in this portfolio) where wheatpasted on select outdoor ad spaces in the city. This was followed by the “Operation Recovery” booklet – designed by Josh MacPhee – and part of the Printed Matter “Artist and Activist” series. Other collaborations include a Temporary Conversations booklet (an interview with Aaron Hughes by Nicolas Lampert), various graphics used on IVAW t-shirts, countless exhibitions, and our current and most ambitious collaboration, the “War is Trauma” portfolio.
The portfolio itself consists of 34 prints from artists in Justseeds, IVAW, and their allies (5 artists/artist collectives that we greatly admire.) Images in the portfolio address a range of topics and advocate for stopping the redeployment of traumatized soldiers, the GI’s right to heal, supporting past and present GI resistance, challenging the culture of militarism in the US, and ending the wars abroad.
The prints themselves are housed within a handmade paper cover from the Combat Paper Project – paper whose source material derives from military uniforms that veterans have cut into small piece, mixed with water, and pulped into paper as part of the healing process. Drew Cameron of the CPP writes, “The batch that I made for the portfolio is mostly created from Army Combat Uniforms that we were worn with the Stryker battalions out of Fort Lewis, WA. These are the same guys who rolled out of Iraq early back in July 2010. I also added Egyptian cotton to strengthen it. I like to imagine that the mill workers who made the cloth I used were the same one’s rising up last spring.”
The artist list includes:
(Justseeds) Josh MacPhee (Brooklyn), Mary Tremonte (Pittsburgh), Kevin Caplicki (Brooklyn), Chris Stain (Queens), Thea Gahr (Portland, OR), Bec Young (Pittsburgh), Erik Ruin (Providence), Pete Yahnke Railand (Milwaukee), Alec Dunn (Portland, OR), Colin Matthes (Milwaukee), Nicolas Lampert (Milwaukee), Jesse Purcell (Montreal), Roger Peet (Portland, OR), Molly Fair (Brooklyn), Mazatl (Mexico City), Shaun Slifer (Pittsburg), Dylan AT Miner (E. Lansing)
(IVAW) Drew Cameron (Army Veteran, Vermont), Joyce Wagner (Marine Veteran, Pittsburgh), Aaron Hughes (IL Army National Guard Veteran, Chicago), Jeremy Bergren (Marine Veteran, North Carolina), Peter Sullivan (IL Army National Guard Veteran, Chicago), Chris Arendt (MI Army National Guard Veteran, Michigan), Malachi Muncy (TX Army National Guard Veteran, Texas), Ash Kyrie (WI Army National Guard Veteran, Wisconsin), and posters from the Bay Area Civilian Soldier Alliance members Siri Margerin and Nave Fortin.
(Allies) Michael Rakowitz (Chicago), Marshall Weber (Booklyn Artists Alliance, Brooklyn), Dan S. Wang (Madison, WI), Harrell Fletcher and Transformazium with Brettiny Hucks, Gayla Jean Clemons, Deon Archie, Deshon LeGrand (Portland, OR / Braddock, PA), Temporary Services (Chicago, Philadelphia, Copenhagen)
Overall, War is Trauma is limited to 130 portfolios. The majority of these went to IVAW, Booklyn, and the artists so the Justseeds store has around 25 to sell. Meaning: these copies may not last long.
Much appreciation is directed towards Booklyn – the incredible artists-run, non-profit, organization that specializes in artist/activist archives, limited edition and unique artists books, and works on paper. Booklyn was instrumental in making sure this project got off the ground. Marshall Weber and Co. helped support the portfolio project by selling a dozen portfolios (that included a drawing by Aaron Hughes) to various archives that in turn provided the funds for this project to happen. We thank all the archives that purchased a sponsor copy and we thank Booklyn and ask fans of Justseeds to support all the work that they do.
Justseeds also thanks the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities at Northwestern University. During the Fall 2011 trimester, Nicolas Lampert of Justseeds received the Jean Gimbel Lane Artist in Residence at the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities. The residency provided a budget and studio space for Lampert to help co-organize the portfolio project with IVAW member Aaron Hughes. The budget also allowed Justseeds member Jesse Purcell to silkscreen 5000 copies of the images by Aaron Hughes, Kevin Caplicki, Erik Ruin, Purcell, and Lampert to be disseminated for free around the US and beyond. Many thanks to Michael Rakowitz, Holly Clayson, Tom Popelka, and all at the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities and the Dept of Art Theory and Practice for supporting this project.
We also thank Drew Cameron for providing the best cover possible for the portfolio – combat paper – and we thank Dan S. Wang for printing the letter press text on the covers. Thank you also to Paul Kjelland for helping out with numerous aspects of the project in Milwaukee. Thank you also to Jessica S. Meuninck Ganger for always making the UWM print studio a home away from home. Many others deserve our thanks – a list too long to name and a list that will inevitably leave out important contributors. This portfolio is truly a collaborative effort of 100-plus people from Justseeds, IVAW, Booklyn, and beyond. We now have 130 portfolios. Let’s stage 130 exhibitions for starters, and let’s continue to support GI resistance and the activist campaigns to end the occupations and the culture of militarism.
To view the IVAW companion website for the War is Trauma portfolio click here.
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