‘american kills’ installation
‘american kills’ by chilean-born new york based artist sebastian errazuriz is a public
installation showcasing the suicide rates of US soldiers. after searching on official
war sites on the internet, he accidentally found out that 2 times more american soldiers
had died in 2009 by committing suicide than those killed during that same year in the
war in iraq; an alarming comparison that errazuriz had personally never read or
heard about before.
according to the artist, a first google search showed only reports of media alarm about
suicide rates, but the information was always comfortably presented divided into months
and generally separated by statistics from the army, navy or air-force.
‘when I first found the overall statistics summed the 304 suicides by US soldiers during
2009, I was shocked. I tried to find a number to compare that statistic. to my surprise
the suicide statistic doubled the total of 149 US soldiers that had died in the iraq war
during 2009 and equaled the number of soldiers killed in afghanistan.‘ – SR
errazuriz’s first instinct was to post the statistic on facebook, dumbfounded by the lack
of response and interest, he bought can of black paint and decided to ‘post’ the news in
the real world on his own wall outside his studio in brooklyn. equipped with a ladder,
he marked a black strip for every dead soldier, until both the suicide rates and war rates
occupied the entire wall and were registered as a single image.
‘the counting of dead soldiers outside my studio was long and surprisingly eerie; it was
hard to forget that every brush stroke was a soldier who had died the previous year.
a lot of people stopped to read the mural and were immediately impressed by the reality
portrayed. most of them seemed quite shocked and approached me to ask if what I was
painting was real. I tried to explain that I simply wished to create a physical image that
could capture people’s imagination, creating awareness of the current numbers in death,
war and the infinite discrepancy between the resources and energies destined to fight and
protect soldiers at war versus the energies invested in protecting their mental health
and stability.‘- SR