Posts tagged ‘Helphand’

Roots of Green Zone: inspirations and issues

Around the time of the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War (3/19/08), I attended a lecture, read a book, and saw an exhibit…

The lecture: At RISD, artist Mel Ziegler presented solo work and collaborations with Kate Ericson. Their projects tweak notions about American history, sense of place, and government authority. For example, for Camouflaged History (1991), they painted a house in a military camouflage pattern using 72 paint colors approved by the local historic district commission in Charleston, SC. This and other site-specific projects often draw in the audience as interpreters and stewards of the artwork.

The book: Kenneth Helphand‘s Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime (2006) considers gardens created by soldiers in the trenches during WWI, Jews in European ghettos during WWII, Japanese-Americans in WWII internment camps, and soldiers on duty in the Persian Gulf, Vietnam, and Korea. By making gardens, soldiers and civilians can create green spaces that physically and mentally sustain them during wartime crisis. Helphand focuses on frontline rather than homefront experiences; more on Victory Gardens in a future post.

The exhibit: ReconnectUS.org presented a multimedia art show in Pawtucket: “Experiencing the War in Iraq.” This wide-ranging exhibit showcased individual responses to war, whether on the frontlines or the homefront.

Activated by Ziegler/Ericson, Helphand, and ReconnectUS.org, I imagined a garden that confronted current crises like ongoing war, food shortages, environmental disasters, record-high gas prices, and a growing national debt. Green Zone would draw from traditions of historic wartime gardens, but also reflect modern motivations to reuse disposable materials, to resist consumerism, and to question the role of the American civilian in the Iraq War.

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July 5, 2008 at 8:29 pm 2 comments


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