Twenty-five years ago, the promise of the first "smart war" was launched: Technologically advanced, machine-driven, and presented to the public via blockbuster press conferences and satellite imagery. Four months prior to the start of Operation Desert Storm, a young Kuwaiti woman testified before congress on atrocities committed by the Iraqi army at an infant care unit in Kuwait, a testimony that was later revealed to have been a performance with a $10 million price tag, orchestrated by a major US public relations firm. Since then, the US has launched other wars, with more persuasive performances and dubious promises. The Fertile Crescent has become fertile testing ground for information control, urban warfare, privatization, incarceration methods, and experiments in mass migration. As the US struggles to decipher a barrage of policy changes and rhetoric, this lecture will examine aspects of imagery and discourse employed over the past quarter century to create the distance and dissonance in our worlds (artistic and otherwise) that have brought us to this present moment.
Rijin Sahakian is a writer and arts organizer. Sahakian received her M.A. in Cultural Policy from New York University, and initiated Sada, a non-profit project conducting arts education, advocacy, and production programs for Baghdad-based artists, which she directed until its closure in Spring, 2015. She has contributed writing to various artist projects and publications, conducted workshops and lecture programs, and curated projects at a range of arts and education spaces in the US and abroad.
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