Friday, April 11, 2008


The Battleground Project


April 23, 2008 - January 27, 2009

Curated by Max Allen

Opening reception: Wednesday April 23, 6:30 – 8:00 pm. Remarks at 6:45 pm.

Battleground: War Rugs from Afghanistan
Modern warfare came to Afghanistan with the Soviet invasion of 1979. After Soviet withdrawal in 1989, a decade of brutal civil war kept this area in turmoil. Now, the global war on terrorism continues to fill the land and sky of Afghanistan with the machinery of war.

The weavers of Afghanistan depict on their rugs what they see and like television news, rugs report current events. Flowers have turned into bullets, landmines and hand grenades. Birds have turned into helicopters and fighter jets. Sheep and horses have turned into tanks. These are the images on a new and electrifying kind of Oriental rug – the “war rugs” from Afghanistan . There were never rugs like this anywhere before 1980.

Certain rugs were the work of weavers in refugee camps (Afghan refugees total 4 million, the largest refugee population in the world) but little is known of the makers themselves. Questions also surround the sentiment of the rugs. Are war rugs pro-war or anti-war? It is difficult to tell what a rug is supposed to mean when its history is hidden and its maker unknown. What is available are the rugs themselves – eloquent anonymous documents about life in an ancient land that has exploded.

The Kandahar Journals of Richard Johnson

Artist Richard Johnson spent two months last summer living with Canadian troops in and around Kandahar , documenting what he saw in words and sketches. His celebrated pictorial reports for the National Post are a record of military life and the relationship between Afghans and Canadians. The Kandahar Journals presents a selection of Richard Johnson’s original drawings and diaries from Afghanistan .

Patches: Military Uniform Insignia

Soldiers wear patches on their uniforms to identify their fighting units. These woven and embroidered insignia are often beautifully designed and reflect each unit’s specialty and battlefield history. There are also unofficial “off-duty” patches that brag about military prowess or express a loathing for the enemy, offering an insight into the mindset of soldiers on the ground.

Textile Museum of Canada

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