Un Chartered Democracy takes the idea of a charter as an official written document of government as well as a contract executed between two parties - the US Government and soldiers serving on its behalf. A small number of US soldiers in Afghanistan have committed atrocities whilst serving their country and its promotion of democracy. Their actions were disrespectful, unethical, unacceptable, unauthorized, unchartered.
I intended to make a thought-provoking book about the insanity of war and needless killing, the effects on young soldiers working in intolerable and stressful circumstances and how these situations create an environment where codes of conduct are broken. I wanted to also reflect on the innocent citizens caught up in the mess.
To suggest a map location in the Middle East, I used the Turkish Map Fold structure along with Islamic patterns in soft pink on the back of the pages.
The music pattern of a pianola roll containing words from Stars and Stripes Forever has been printed onto the pages.
The drawings depict some of the atrocities committed by a few US soldiers in Afghanistan, and parts of the drawings have been hand coloured with watercolour pencil.
I have been reminded with this book that although the artist creates a piece constructing meaning by reflecting their own thoughts, opinions and feelings, once it arrives in the hand of the viewer, the whole thing is recontextualised by the opinions, beliefs and knowledge each viewer brings to their reading of the book. I would like to thank the BAO members who have received the book and have written eloquent and thoughtful responses, which have been much appreciated.
Helen Malone www.biblio-tout.blogspot.com