Emblem and Artifice

Emblem and Artifice: Withered Symbols of the War

1945. In a world ravaged by the Second World War, wounds ran deep. Seemingly permanent, the trauma inflicted and lessons learned from this global conflict were etched into the minds of the millions who suffered its effect. The horrors, the heroism, the defeats and victories were all carved into the collective psyche of a generation. Surrounded by reminders of this conflict, these brutal memories were similarly imprinted onto all manner of artifacts – from a fallen soldier’s uniform to the flag of an oppressive regime. Most potent of these were the symbols that had defined the conflict itself – those icons of fear and hope, oppression and resistance. These rival concepts often existed within the same symbol, even though history has often chosen to remember only one perspective. Coupled with the memories of a world on fire, these symbols were emblazoned with the regrets and hopes of all.

Looking back 70 years later, that turbulent and strong-willed generation has nearly passed on – and with them their painful memories. Those once-formidable symbols representing the collective regrets of a generation have begun to wither – and we foolishly begin to follow in footsteps best left forgotten. As much as history holds lessons for us to learn, its narrow perspective often defines regrets shallowly, failing to remember the depth of our mistakes. To appreciate a symbol of hope, we must first understand why people feared it – and to understand an insignia of hate, we must understand why it inspired.  No reflection is complete without understanding its source – and so with each emblem, there exists an artifice.

** Progress Notes available at the end of the gallery

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana

Process: Using Kodabromide Paper that expired August 1, 1945 – five days before the Hiroshima Bomb – the paper is coated with a resist and the design cut into the resist.  Exposed to light, the paper is then alternated between developer and fixer (one print starts in the developer while the other starts in the fixer, and then alternated), allowing the chemistry to eat away the resist, exposing the paper to the chemistry. This action creates rust-like, decaying patterns of alternating exposed and undeveloped (yet “fixed”) areas.  Once the entire resist is washed off, the print is fixed completely and washed.