News

Giving a Face to the Victims of Drone Killings

by Mostafa Heddaya on April 7, 2014

jr_kpk_full

(image via notabugsplat.com)

In Pakistan’s volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, a collective has unveiled an athletic-field-sized poster meant to attract the attention of distant American drone operators. The large printout, organized under the auspices of Pakistani rights-advocacy group Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR) and French street artist JR’s ongoing Inside Out project, depicts a solemn-faced young girl whose family has been decimated by drones.

The project’s website, which claims authorship for the work on behalf of “an artist collective in Pakistan and the US, including the french artist JR” (naturally, no natives are named, only the celebrity artist), notes that the accompanying hashtag, #NotABugSplat, refers to drone operators’s vernacular term for kills. The group hopes to “create empathy and introspection amongst drone operators, and … dialogue amongst policy makers, eventually leading to decisions that will save innocent lives.”

This isn’t the first time drones have been the subject of artistic interventions. As Rhizome discussed back in 2012, various projects by Trevor Paglen, Omer Fast, James Bridle, and others have been making “such things visible” in an effort to highlight the obscure mechanisms of drone warfare.

Update, 4/7 5:23 pm EDT: A member of the collective, an American citizen who works in the advertising industry, has responded to a query from Hyperallergic regarding the future plans and makeup of the group. After noting that the collective intends to install a dozen more such printouts in Pakistan, he writes:

We’re a little apprehensive about giving all our names out for the time being. We are an artist collective. Some of our team members are in Pakistan and we want to be sensitive to their safety over the next couple of days. Hence for now, we’re an artist collective from Pakistan, USA and France. One of the members of the collective is JR. Some of the members are practicing artists.

Local Pakistani residents near the #NotaBugSplat image on the group. (all images via notabugsplat.com)

Local Pakistani residents near the #NotaBugSplat image on the group. (all images via notabugsplat.com)

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  • Joe Pan

    This is great, more of this.

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