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Installation View - Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam / 2014
Exhibition View, Van Nelle Fabriek / Prospects & Concepts, Rotterdam, NL
For many months, the civil war in Syria has been going on. But the use of chemical weapons on August 21, 2013 suddenly caused the conflict to become an international conflict. The UN agreement against the use of chemical weapons made interference from other countries inevitable. There was one problem; it was unclear who fired the rocket, the rebels or Assad? The US where the first ones to point the finger towards Assad, choosing the side of the rebels, who also had support from Al-Qaida. This conflicting situation caused a small protest of U.S. soldiers who spoke out against this war, against fighting alongside Al-Qaida.
Pictures of anonymous soldiers started to appear on Twitter under hashtag #IDIDNTJOIN, their faces hidden behind a written message that made it clear that they were not willing to fight in this war. Besides that it’s forbidden by law in the U.S. to make a political statement in uniform, this was not the kind of campaign that helped the government plans to intervene in this new war. Right after, a notification that the Syrian Electronic Army (Syrian pro-Assad hackers) was behind this campaign appeared, claiming the first pictures initiating this campaign, were posted by them. A week later, the first American soldier came forward, publicly admitting that he was one of the soldiers who had photographed himself with a protest message.
As I collected these images my confusion grew as I couldn’t tell which ones were genuine and which ones were frauds. At this point, I started taking my own photos that looked like the ones I found, and started posting them on twitter under the same hashtag. The images where accepted like all others, and ended up in the mix of all the images already out there. To me the unclarity of these images is like the unclarity within the story of the chemical rocket; no one knows who ‘shot’ these, with which intentions or from which angle. We can only guess.