Toy soldiers battle in YBCA’s 5th Triennial

The opening night for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 5th Triennial (San Francisco) was a couple of week’s ago. I imagine it must be difficult to put together a show like this – a survey of what is happening in the Bay Area. So I applaud the hard work of the curators and the artists for putting it all together.

It was challenging to find the flow in the exhibit. Was the main connection location? These selected artists represent the Bay Area and perhaps that was the point – we have a varied eclectic group here, and I guess that is good!

One of the most profound pieces was by Brian Conely. His soldier installation with game pieces and strategy was intriguing. It included larger than life photo blow ups (no pun intended) of melted plastic army men heads which was humorous and sobering at the same time. Tied into the installation was looped news video of US forces bombing and bursting into Iraqi homes. I found this initially playful piece to be horrifying.

Searchinig around the YBCA site I found more info about his piece:

At Games Expo in Las Vegas on March 19–21, 2007, I asked a group of gamers to “play”/fight three battles from the war in Iraq, using recent information from Western and Iraqi news sites, and real-time reports from Iraqi bloggers. The gamers built a diorama that was used to represent a town in the Zarga region near Najaf for the first two games, and a neighborhood in Baghdad for the third. An onsite research team investigated and selected the scenarios.

The first game restaged an attack by a group called Soldiers of the Sky on a police barricade, on January 28, 2007, during the Ashura pilgrimage from Najaf to Karbala. This game was based on reports from Western news sources. The second game restaged the same event as seen through the eyes of civilians whose clan, the Hawatim, was involved. The last event followed a live hostage crisis that had begun in February, 2007, when Hannelore Kadhim and her son Sinan were kidnapped from their Baghdad home by a group called the Arrows of Righteousness.

I think the Triennial is worth checking out, but do not expect to be wowed. Read more about it here:


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