In 2003 I walked on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach two or three mornings a week. Amongst the beach jetsam and garbage, especially in winter, plastic shotgun shells are littered about. I have been told they float to the ocean from hunting areas in the Sacramento Delta. Sometime in early January, as the momentum for invading Iraq strengthened, I began collecting shells. Some mornings, after a high tide and surf, I would easily find 20 to 25. By the time the war began in mid-March I had over 200.
Within the first week of war there was tremendous outrage in the media over Al Jazeera’s broadcast of images of dead American soldiers and civilians. Concurrently, General Tommy Franks’ response to the numbers of civilians killed by the United States was, “We don’t do body counts.” I decided it was important to look at these images of war. I viewed Al Jazeera’s English language website (when it wasn’t blocked) as well as several other sites.
I found photos of Iraqis – children and adults; wounded, burned and bloodied; dead and alive. I chose eight images, cropped them, and mounted them within the box in a pattern of ninety six rectangles. The shotgun shells are threaded and float above.