Peace is Guilty

Solo Exhibition Sutton Gallery, Melbourne
24 May – 21 June 2014

Images by Andrew Collis

Traveling through Egypt in 2011 with a local Egyptian woman, and visiting the government building that was burned to the ground, I was reminded of the history of protest and war in the Middle East. Ancient history had informed every monument, every life and I noticed how different this was to the history of the world that I knew.

This body of work looks at the radical protest of self-immolation which in modern times has spread across the world, showing a desperation and frustration with authoritarian regimes and political construct, linked to historical, social and religious factors as well as racism in western countries.

The name of the exhibition Peace is guilty was written on a note by Nhat (Phat) Chi Mai  who self immolated in 1967 in protest against the Vietnam War and all wars. She wrote 10 letters before her death and this was one of them. The day after, many newspapers carried blank spaces where the news of her act had been censored. At her funeral there was a 5km crowd of 50,000 people behind the car. I felt the words, even though abstract, were strong and carried several meanings.

Fundamentally the works look at life and death and talk of the de-humanisation and disintegration of the modern world, the futility of war and the fragility of life.