16 FLOWERS FOR KANDAHAR

I started this metamedia assemblage on the Sunday morning that U.S. Staff Sergeant  Robert Bales murdered sixteen Afghani civilians, most of them children, some awakened in their beds before being shot.  Most of the bodies were set ablaze by Bales.

Horrible acts are committed during wartime.  Man's cruelty to another human being exacerbated by the psychological trauma of government-sanctioned murder.  I do not pretend to understand nor stand judgment.  I am just a witness, an artist, a poet with a requiem...




The centerpiece of the assemblage is the archetypal baby Jesus in manger, sans swaddling.  He lifts his stigmata-stained hands to the dead god that would forsake him thirty-three years later while suffering on the cross.  His mangy manger is drenched in blood as two vulturous lovebirds peck at his infantile flesh.  He is also the baby Mohammed and the baby Siddhartha.  He is the collective symbol of the sixteen lives navigating the bardo, having been shot in their beds—and then burned.  






The lovebirds are the warbirds, created by the addiction to the Military Industrial Complex—hence the monkey on the pink bird's back.  The yellow bird is a bitch and a nasty, nasty bird.  To the right of the manger is a skull on a pike—a warning but also the symbol of life, death & rebirth.  Atop the skull is a rudraksha, or Shiva's tear, the seed representing the Hindu god of destruction's [and then creation] realization of the suffering of all living creatures. Also in Vedic scripture, there was a demon who misused his power by torturing the innocents  The gods were afraid of this demon and implored Shiva to eliminate him.  Realizing the mahyhem he would create, Shiva cried and  Mother Earth transmogrified the tears into the holy rudraksha tree.

The pink bird is the vehicle for the black monkey, the forbidden indulgence of base desire.  He offers a grim bouquet of condolence.  He also wears a garland of a single skull, representing the samsara of life and death, but mostly death




Atop this grisly pastoral is Kuan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of compassion.  Kuan Yin is the Chinese counterpart to Avalokiteshwara, and she has brought her culture's symbol of transformation, the Dragon, which has manifested upon the missile in the background.  Opposite is a lame sadhu who plays the shania badly; its screechy dirge piercing the tableaux like a wicked wicked heavy metal clarinet.  Mourners have left their gifts of medicine, secreted in an ampule fashioned from the sands of time wasted on warmongering.
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In the bottom compartment of this elegiac assemblage lay the mangled bodies of soldiers, frozen in a molten deathmask of useless conflict, most likely the victims of a government-prescribed methamphetamine-crazed friendly fire—only visible if the diorama is viewed from the bottom like some twisted upside-down glass-bottom boat sailing the straits of Sisyphus.

May this vulgar aberration serve as the only grief we shall feel, a catalyst for an end to the inevitable horrors of war. May all beings be liberated.  Gate gate paragate.  Parasamgate.  Bodhi svaha.

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