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Promotional video for Untethered

Untethered
2024

MFA thesis installation in the main building court of Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore MD, USA.

Part of Grad Show 3, Mount Royal School of Art (Multidisciplinary MFA) 2024 thesis group exhibition, curated by Professor Luca Buvoli.

Decommissioned, model T-10, US military personnel parachute with severed suspension lines, detached harness with risers, 550 para-cord. High-definition video projection, stereo soundtrack (8 min 7 sec).

Parachute diameter: 35 feet (10,67 meters)

Harness dimensions: 30 x 30 inches (76,2 x 76,2 cm, excluding suspension lines).

Artist’s statement

At present, the United States finances, trains and arms soldiers in Lebanon’s Lebanese Armed Forces. My mixed European/Lebanese heritage has compelled me to spend the last two years interviewing retired and active duty U.S. and Lebanese soldiers, deployed to the ‘Greater Middle East’ region.

 

In these conversations, I was struck by each soldier’s account of the camaraderie between ‘battle buddies’ and surprised that the older veterans from both countries spoke of a profound sense of loss when returning to civilian life. This traumatic experience of detachment resonated strongly with me when a U.S. paratrooper gave me his parachute. He recounted how he had acquired it after retiring from active duty in 2008 and then discovered that all 30 of its suspension lines had been severed.

 

The accompanying two works on the floor comprise a ‘foot portrait’ of a U.S. paratrooper and a ‘hand portrait’ of a Lebanese, active duty infantryman. Both men cannot be identified for various reasons, but I was driven to record the intimacy of our conversations in some way. They both allowed me to photograph and draw their feet and hands, so as to protect their anonymity. Each image is an original drawing, scratched by hand with a steel blade into a dark background, on a piece of cotton rag.

 

The U.S. paratrooper’s feet are scratched into a layer of black boot polish because to this day, airborne troops still buff their black leather, ceremonial ‘jump boots’ using these materials to signify excellence and professionalism. The Lebanese infantryman’s hands however, are scratched into a layer of gunpowder residue as he uses an M16 assault rifle and ammunition – both supplied by the United States.

 

Acknowledgements

Luis Rosa Valentin

Dan Kasza

Carlos Muños

Katinka Hooyer

Hannah Challita

Suzanne Challita

Carine Challita

Anthony Emmanuel

Peter Emmanuel

 

To my parents

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