America The Gift Shop

Posted by Grey Saturday, January 23, 2010

Make fun of the war. Will you?

Artist and photographer extraordinaire Phillip Toledano, whom earlier works, Days With My Father, were particularly emotionally empowering, has made quite an about turn in his latest work, "America The Gift Shop".

Simultaneously evoking sentiments of macabre, thought-provoking, disturbing, funny, the installation exhibition is Toledano's take on former US President, George Bush and his administration's foreign policy, which has by now been infamously defined by the second Iraq War and the purported War on Terror, and reimagine them into a gift shop with a twist. So while one might expect the usual memento or souvenir from a certain museum, you can expect some darkly humor that could prove to be perversely disturbing for some.

In Toledano's own words, "The whole idea behind the thing is to seduce people into this sugary exterior coating and then once you realise the horror of the things that I am talking about then it becomes... shocking, appalled and all that stuff".

Premiered as an online exhibition at www.americathegiftshop.com in October 2008, the installation project is currently being exhibited at ION Art Gallery as part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival until January 24th.

Some of the highlights you can find there:

Here's one particularly disturbing work that encourage involvement from the audience to put themselves into the shoe of US Army reservist Lynndie England,in her iconic photo shoot (embedded below for your easy reference).



The milder cynical T-Shirt.

The Abu Gharib coffee table.

The inflatable Guantanamo Bay prison cell.

A Dick Cheney snow globe in which the former United States Vice President is shredding top secret documents, and the snows floating around are the shredded top secret documents.

The Injured Iraqis doll collection: Abdul the Amputee, Ibrahim the Eviscerated, and Headless Habib.

The exhibition will be closing this weekend, so do check it out this couple of days.

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