A (Temporary) Memorial to Ongoing War and Conflict

A makeshift military checkpoint challenges the notions of traditional monuments and memorial spaces by disrupting movement to engage and bring the viewer into the space where they are confronted to interpret the layered meanings of the memorial.

Detailed project description below.

A (Temporary) Memorial to Ongoing War and Conflict, performance-based installation. Nocturne Art Exhibit 2019, video documentation, 3 minutes 17 seconds,  Oct 2019.

A (Temporary) Memorial to Ongoing War and Conflict, as part of Nocturne 2019 SCAFFOLD, photographs by Jessie Meisner, Oct 2019.

Detailed Description of Project

For Nocturne’s annual art festival in Halifax, we set-up a site-specific military checkpoint that restricted movement to a preexisting war memorial, and in doing so parallels the daily experiences of ongoing war and conflict through the world.

 

Restricting movement by means of a militarystyle checkpoint is an overt demonstration of control. My objective was to acknowledge the soldiers and police officers who man the checkpoints, and the civilians whose lives are rerouted daily. In doing so, the checkpoint acts as a (temporary) memorial, by drawing attention to the invisibility of ongoing war and conflict.

 

The checkpoint was installed at one entrance to Halifax’s Grand Parade to reference military and police checkpoints in current global conflicts—checkpoints are a trope representing profound power. The core elements of checkpoints typically include a shelter, Hesco and concrete barriers, sandbags, concertina wire, pylons, and road signs. Veterans, military, and civilians built a fixed gate, a wooden shelter with a corrugated-metal roof, and two stop signs. We also filled 400 military- grade sandbags to reinforce the checkpoint. The gate’s mirror-like covering reflects the passerby’s gaze, symbolically inviting the viewer to step into the memorial space.

 

Military checkpoints have two sides, disconnecting the experiences and understanding between soldier and civilian. This human-scale tension reflects the inherent power dynamic. As intended, the work neither created violence and trauma, nor did it generate chaos. Instead, an abstract form and reflective materials subverted the power from the checkpoint to create a space for self-reflection and contemplation.

 

The work recognized the interconnectedness of our global political climate: decisions by our political leaders, our military’s impact on foreign land, or the arrival of newcomers fleeing war to find a new home. The implications in our communities and built environments—physically and psychologically—are monumental in scale and importance. By disrupting experiences on a street in Canada, I aimed to make the invisibility of war both visible and visceral.

This project was done in collaboration with Sweet Squish Farms and The Veteran Farm Project. The project was built by veterans and civilians at Sweet Squish Farms. The sandbags were filled with top soil that will be used for next years crops and the shelter will be recycled and used as a roadside stand to sell produce next season and raise money for The Veteran Farm Project. 

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 © 2019 Jessica Lynn Wiebe