Fog of War, woodcut, 4 x 6" ©William Evertson 2013
Keeping with the idea of making small travel pieces this summer, this latest piece, inspired by the horrific gas attacks on civilians in the Syrian Civil War, was completed this past weekend on a trip to Ithaca, NY.
Early, day one, progress on Fog of War
Although the image arose from a current event, the title Fog of War comes from a military phrase that describes the difficulties of decision making in the midst of war. The phrase came into my vocabulary following the 2003 documentary, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. The film, while not an exercise in rehabilitation or a revisionist version of the role of this Secretary of Defense during Viet Nam, does shed light on governments seeing what they want to believe.
As I worked on this small piece the debate on the US course of action was reaching fever pitch although the particulars of the attack (at present) are still unknown. Since Viet Nam the approach to selling the American people on a particular war has become a nuanced and accepted ritual little dependent on actual security needs.
Clean block ready to print
When I posted the work in progress to Facebook one cryptic comment caught my attention; "how would u have helped the jews, gypsies & gays in WW 2 . . .?" I didn't believe the piece had a particular political stance, although personally I think the idea of our intervention via more violence is ill advised.
My answer (...and I hate hypotheticals): "Art has very little effect on the great evils that infect the world. Although concerning ww2, the nazi's certainly thought it was valuable to loot and important to suppress."
Art may be political, it may be unsettling and may be a part of conversations concerning political or social justice issues but by itself my feeling is that when we as artists venture into topical concerns it is as witness rather than forcing change.
Fog of War, Edition of 75
The piece has been created for the exhibit, A Book About Death, Australia. The exhibit will open October 18th and run through November 24 at the Tweed River Art Gallery, New South Wales, Australia.