This project focuses on documenting, through art, the trials and tribulations of Canadian soldiers.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Going Away: Part 1

So I've begun work on my next project. Its focus is on the family and the process of leaving for a tour. I talk to my friend and in some cases I've even helped them get ready to leave. Instructions on the 'what ifs' and if anything goes pear-shaped, what they'd like to see happen. Solemn moments to be sure but nothing compared to the stress and anxiety the family feels.

The project is titled "Going Away" and the plan is to show old luggage with old style luggage tags. The luggage tags themselves will be updated to the relevant location but stay true to the theme. The challenge with this project is a.) incorporate the overall vision of the subject and b.) keep it with the prescribed 42"x22" board. The luggage itself is pretty mundane. It will look old and well used. But other than that, they will be without notice. Its the luggage stickers and tags that will tell the story.

I've always found luggage stickers interesting for that very reason: they speak of who we are and where we've been (or not been by omission). When the luggage is plastered with these stickers it reminds us of an era when travel (and maybe war?) was romantic. Now its fast, complicated and very, very unromantic. The tags I'm designing are based on antique tags and all I'm doing is updating the content with new locations, modes of transport ect. They'll still tell a story but behind the bygone design, I doubt there will be any romantic notions.

And yet, many of my friends had romantic notions about Afghanistan before they left. They've said as much. Not about the realities of war. Many of them were very familiar with these things. But even when I talk to them now they speak of their experience with a sense of adventure, of danger to be sure and of wonder. And many speak of it with jaded feelings. It doesn't seem to be uncommon for the feelings to be all over the map. The wear and tear might even take on the same characteristics of the luggage they haul with them as they travel to and fro.

I wish we still used the luggage stickers...