Carnival of the Animals (Study No. 1 for “Re/reading Riley’s Story”) re-presents as video still images drawn from Monica Haller’s artist’s book Riley and his story and envisions a kind of interior, post-traumatic recollection of war. Intrusive, loud helicopter sounds disrupt an imagined experience of the present and relocate it in memory of past war experiences. Details of murals believed to have been painted by Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib under Saddam Hussein’s rule and depicting deer and waterfowl appear and recede from view throughout the video. Within the formidable prison, these almost otherworldly animal witnesses seem to deepen the sense of a kind of dark, fearful theater. Like these animals of prey, Iraqi detainees, most of whom, as Riley describes, were deemed free of guilt and eventually released, were extremely vulnerable at the hands of the United States military. Through their capture and detention, many suffered considerable, irreparable psychological and physical harm, even death. Military personnel, who must sacrifice their autonomy through their service, were also objectified and wounded psychologically and physically by experiences that were imposed on them through their service to the United States government in the “dark carnival” of the war in Iraq.
Carnival of the Animals (Study No. 1 for "Re/reading Riley's Story")
Single-channel video, 4 minutes, 4 seconds, 2010 (with audio tracks Gretchenstr by JMFH, Deep Pulse 02 by Martian, and Close Helicopter by Nofeedbak of The Freesound Project).