The War Show
The War Show explores antagonistic collaboration, and has evolved through several themes since its inception. The first ever War Show took place in the Philippines in March 2006, where Manila and Brooklyn artists paired off and conducted mini art battles. In September of that year, a group of eight artists engaged an artist-run gallery in Minneapolis in a mock-invasion and propaganda war. In 2008, we decided to address the notion that "history is written by the victors" through a collection of fabicated artifacts and propaganda.
The inaugural exhibition of the series was prompted by a an old idea and a new opportunity. We had always joked about warring through artistic duels, but when Manny contacted an artist-run space in Cubao, in Manila, we got a chance to see what would happen. As it was our first time organizing an art battle, we kept it simple. Artists from America were paired with artists from the Philippines, and each pair discussed possible strategies for artistic engagement, as there wouldn't be much time for discussion once we arrived. Upon reaching Manila, we had two days to get ready. For some artists, this meant hours of installation in the gallery while others were gathering materials and gearing up for performances. The opening was held on April 8th.
After getting our feet wet in Manila, we decided to get more playful with our next sortie. After getting in touch with another collective/artspace in Minneapolis, we decided to stage an "invasion," taking cues from both the war in Iraq as well as the increasing gentrification of Brooklyn. After a long and drawn-out propaganda campaign, we arrived in Minneapolis to takeover the gallery space. As the room was long and narrow, with a storefront window at one end, we decided to build a barrier wall along the center line to divide the space in two halves. The opening was a three hour event, with many impromptu performances as well as audience participation and ping-pong.
For the first War Show close to home, we decided to engage in a battle of stories and histories, inviting all past combatants to tell their version of past battles. Taking the form of a museum display in less than perfect times, this exhibition brings together real, unreal and falsified records from previous war shows. Also on view: a video documentary of the history of the war show, a suitcase of rejected memorials to past war shows, and texts from past participants, translated via babelfish.