Casey's Pawns - Victoria & Albert Museum
Materials: Lambda colour photograph backed on Dibond (Each photograph is an edition of 7 + 3AP)
Dimensions: 120 x 180 cm
Exhibition history: 2004 Victoria & Albert Museum London, UK
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta
Casey's Pawns, commissioned by the Victoria & Albert Museum was a highly emotional performance held five days before the hand-over of sovereignty to the Iraqi government, coinciding with the withdrawal of US and allied forces. Lucy Orta invited fifty performers to take part in a silent demonstration of peace, in protest against the invasion of the town of Fallujah in Iraq. Fallujah was the bloodiest battle in the history of the Gulf war, specifically because of the use of chemical weapons and the alleged indiscriminate use of violence against civilians and children by military forces. Casey served as the Commanding General, Multi-National Force in Iraq at the time.
The immobile figures stood in formation for over two-hours in the museum galleries amidst the tombs, sepulchres and war trophies from historical battles and combats, meditating the future fate of Iraq and its citizens. An intermittent shrill whistle broke the silence only for the group to reconvene in a new formation. The gold-printed combat suits are inscribed with graphic signifiers and the faces covered with hoods synonymous with those worn by prisoners of war, visually subverting the symbols of violence into a statement of peace.
V&A Late Night was curated by Dr Shaun Cole. Lucy Orta was interviewed by Christabel Stewart for Show Studio. The performance was documented by the film-maker Roman Coppola.