In honor of Memorial Day, I’m featuring an art installation I made last year called 12,470 souls.
Even though media concerning the Iraqi War is around us everyday, I felt somewhat detached from the reality of it.
To make it more real for me I created an installation which honors the causalities of the Iraqi War. As of February 12, 2006 (when I created this art) , approximately 12,470 have been killed. I say approximately because there is no formal tally for civilian deaths, even though there is an exact count for ally deaths. According to a CNN count on February 12, 2006, there have been 2,470 coalition deaths – 2,267 Americans, one Australian, 101 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, two Danes, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Hungarian, 26 Italians, one Kazakh, one Latvian, 17 Poles, two Salvadoran, three Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians.
There is no official estimate of the number of Iraqi civilians who have died since the outbreak of the war in Iraq. Human rights groups say the occupying powers have failed in their duty to catalogue the civilian deaths, giving the impression that ordinary Iraqis’ lives are worth less than those of their soldiers for whom detailed statistics are available. However, the Pentagon spokesman said “there is no accurate way to validate the estimates of civilian casualties by this or any other organization”. He added: The loss of any innocent lives is a tragedy; something Iraqi security forces and the Multi-National Force painstakingly work to avoid. “Former regime elements and insurgents have made it a practice of using civilians as human shields, operating and conducting attacks against coalition forces from within areas inhabited by civilians.” Here are the estimates from various sources as of October 2005 – Iraq Body Count: 14-16,000, Brookings Institute: 10-27,000, UK Foreign Secretary: >10,000, People’s Kifah, >37,000, Lancet: 100,000.
I created this piece with 12,470 unlit wooden matches. Each match represents the death and unrealized potential of one life. The magnitude of this many dead is profound. I cannot help but also think about the web which reverberates from each death, to affect the lives of their family members, community, and the world.