Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"For Queen and Country" an interesting use of the photographic portrait snapshot

"Why not King and Country?" asked an elderly man who did not look too happy with the world. The obvious answer is that the dead people pictured on postage stamps were fighting for a Queen, H.M.Elizabeth 2'nd, rather than a King though many might not feel this to be so for this was a war launched by politicians.

On their website, the National Portrait Gallery say ... "Created by official war artist and Turner Prize winner Steve McQueen, Queen and Country takes the form of a large cabinet containing a series of facsimile postage sheets bearing portrait heads of soldiers who lost their lives in the conflict in Iraq between 2003 and 2009.  The presentation of the work at the Gallery is the culmination of a national tour of the work, which has been supported by The Art Fund."

I found myself as part of a group of people attending a free gallery talk about the exhibit. We sat on stools to the side of the gallery at the centre of which was a large cabinet containing drawers, about 80 or so, and on each side of these pull-out draws, was a large group of stamps, each one containing an image of a soldier who had died in the conflict. There are women as well as men included.

Discussion centred around the artist's wish to have these stamps circulated as actual stamps which is the artist's intention who feels he owes it to the relatives of the dead. Those gathered disagreed. I questioned the fact that it would mean putting a price on the stamp to one side if not over the face yet it would seem a further travesty to pull to bits the work of art that stood bleakly in front of us which is due to be permanently exhibited at the Imperial War Museum.

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