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    Proposal for Counting the Dead

    Unrealised proposal for a changing billboard installation, 2007
    “In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US military adopted an official policy of not counting deaths. General Tommy Franks‘ statement that “we don’t do body counts” was widely reported. Critics claimed that Franks was only attempting to evade bad publicity, while supporters pointed to the failure of body counts to give an accurate impression of the state of the war in Vietnam. At the end of October 2005, it became public that the US military had been counting Iraqi fatalitites since January 2004 but only those killed by insurgents and not those killed by the US forces.” Wikipedia

    2006 & 2007 were the bloodiest years of the US led Iraq War “Operation Iraqi Freedom” with estimates of 50,000 civilian deaths in those two years alone (some sources claim much higher numbers).

    The goal of the project was to establish a billboard installation in Los Angeles (my home at the time) that documented the Iraqi deaths* that were a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom. These deaths were rarely reported in the US. This billboard installation sought to announce every reported Iraqi death from the previous day by handwriting the raw information on billboards, painting over the previous reports as more space would needed. At times the pace of writing/painting/erasing required would have been almost unrealistic as there were so many deaths.


    * data was to be gathered from Reuters, and IraqBodyCount and was intended to focus on civilian death, but due to the scale of the violence at the time (hundreds of deaths daily) there would be a margin of error and uncertainty about the nature of the deaths.

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