Rift, Michael Heizer, Huwayjah, Iraq (May 2015), 40x50", 2015 

Sculpture In Reverse (2015-2017) was conceived after an aerial bombing video was declassified by the US-led Western military coalition operating in Iraq. The target of the bombing was an ISIS militant trench that I had misrecognized as an artwork by the artist Michael Heizer. For a few moments, images intended for a military analysis was analysed through an art historical lens. My misrecognition reflects a confluence of disturbing similarities between images and documentations of Land Art and military trenches and fortifications. Sculpture In Reverse takes the structure of a fictional interview between Michael Heizer and the curator Julia Brown. The interview serves as a metafiction within my personal narrative of misrecognizing an ISIS trench as a work of art by Heizer.

 

Set in 1981 and the present, Heizer and Brown anxiously dwell over nuclear war and discuss Heizer’s artistic practice. While the interview unfolds Heizer, performed by myself, is seen conducting aircraft marshalling signals that correspond with the armament and take off of US war planes. Eventually Brown presents mysterious photographs of an artwork by Heizer for which he is unable to recognize. When pressed to recall the origins of the mysterious photographs, the video breaks in its formal logic and enters a hallucinated aerial bombing sequence. The bombing sequence features a reconstruction of the original Iraqi bombing site with Heizer’s artwork replacing the original ISIS trench. The video ends with the destruction of both Heizer’s artwork and the original ISIS trench observed through the monochromatic gaze of a weapon system onboard a US war plane.

 

Sculpture In Reverse exists as a seven minute single-channel video, and three-channel video installation.