THEY CAN'T MESS WITH WHAT'S IN YOUR HEAD
Imperial War Museums & Bishop Grosseteste University
Doddington Hall, Lincolnshire
There is a long-standing connection between the military and modelmaking. Scale models of terrain and structures have been used in training of personnel and the strategy of warfare in Europe since the 16th century. The scale models shown in this viewing box are based on the testimony of the veterans involved in this project and those who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
The form of the box references the ubiquitous watch tower; here, however, the direction of the gaze is reversed and the viewer has to look within. The tent which encloses the structure is made from a woven geotextile, similar to the black kind commonly used on military bases to create shelter and temporary buildings. The vibrancy of its colours and dynamism of its appearance are in some ways the antithesis of militaristic architecture, but are reminiscent of the colourful and often humorous imagery which adorn the surfaces of blast walls and recreational areas.
Some of the scenes depicted inside are inspired by real locations in some of the bases - albeit altered and made more uncanny by the use of optical effects - whilst another pair of symbolic dioramas represents the longing for home and the loved ones left behind. These views are refracted through lenses and reflected in mirrors making them difficult for the eye to fully grasp and the mind to completely fathom. They are oblique, dream-like images from an artist’s response to the irreducible experiences of those who lived in the FOBS of Afghanistan and Iraq.
The six scenes shown are: the green, the boardwalk (Camp Bastion, Afghanistan), the gardens at Lashkar Gah military base (Afghanistan), moons, dorm tent interior and watch tower at night.