9 Scripts from a Nation at War was produced by artists Andrea Geyer, Sharon Hayes, Ashley Hunt, Katya Sander and David Thorne during the US invasion of Iraq. Originally shown at Documenta 12 (2007), the 10-channel video installation is structured around a central question: “How does war construct specific positions for individuals to fill, enact, speak from or resist?” The artists work with scripts for a range of typified figures—veteran, student, citizen, actor, blogger, lawyer, journalist, interviewer, source—showing how the experience of war produces knowledge in its willing and unwilling participants. In this work, the structuring concept of the script allows the audience to see how each of us is capable of harbouring and disseminating discourses of violence and occupation. The pedagogical nature of the work is central to its reception. Materials such as chalk, lecture podia and computer monitors form a field of material inquiry in the exhibition space. Viewers are encouraged to set their own paths through multiple monitors, projections and consoles, each hosting a specific set of scripted roles. Though primarily focusing on U.S. iterations of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the media and institutional rhetoric presented in the work resonates with Canada’s complicity in those occupations, as well as Canadian cooperation in illegal prisoner detention in Guantanamo Bay, such as with Omar Khadr. FUSE Editorial Committee member Reena Katz viewed the work as installed at MoMA’s Media Gallery in New York (January–August 2012). As a follow-up, Katz produced the podcast presented here, a dialogue-based conceptual description by Geyer, Hunt and Thorne mashed up with audio fragments from the work itself.
Images: Andrea Geyer, Sharon Hayes, Ashley Hunt, Katya Sander and David Thorne, 9 Scripts for a Nation at War (2007). Top: Video still; bottom: installation shot. Courtesy of the artists.