The direct inspiration for this show came from watching the results of the last national election and the polemics and divisive rhetoric that followed until it was resolved. Both parties were, and in some cases still are, passionate in their belief that they had won and no amount of discussion, mediation, or legal wrangling was or is going to change those opinions. Our change of government was a peaceful one, for the most part, but only in the fact that no shots were exchanged between political parties in spite of the entrenched positions of both factions. The nature of conflict does not always lend itself to such quiet resolution. Tom Lerher’s topical song of the fifties,
“They Are Rioting in Africa” remains topical today
…the whole world is festering with unhappy souls
the French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles,
Italians hate Yugoslaves, South Africans hate the Dutch,
and I don’t like anybody very much…
I have refrained from alluding directly to sexual politics, but there is an element of that here also. The visual imagery for this show comes directly from my tour as a machine gunnery instructor at the Infantry School at Ft. Benning’s Galloway ranges in the late sixties. We ran countless classes of basic, advanced, officer candidate, reserve and national guard through the daylight and night firing class on the M-60 and 50 caliber machine guns, nearly all headed off to Vietnam. Why couldn’t the same mechanism that traversed and elevated the machine gun barrel give life to a squirt gun and serve a creative rather than a destructive role? (sort of an ink jet printer with an attitude, but without the control.)
Once the basic idea for the show crystalized, it then became an issue of problem solving and, like a real engineer, I began to assault the individual issues. The mechanical, electronic, hydraulic and esthetic facets dictated that I give up control over results and I rather enjoy having relinquished command, so to speak, to the forces at work. I honestly did not know how this would look at the end of five weeks. Hopefully the events would have left their traces so that we might guess at what “action took” place here.There was a bit of a sense of adventure in that.
The “targets” have been imprinted too. They have visible traces of the experience, which, for metaphorical and practical reasons, will fade in time. The “targets” come from the same basic mold and, as with us, will be changed by this process. What’s a metaphor good for, anyway, if it cannot engender and communicate an idea to us in a manner that we don’t actually have to sweat or bleed to learn the lessons of war.
by Ken Hruby
Kinetic Sculpture Installation
Boston Sculptors at Chapel Gallery
Feb – Mar, 2002