War Redacted: In Conversation with Camille Gage

10YAC project coordinator Camille Gage is a Minneapolis-based artist. She was recently a featured artist in the art e-zine, access+ENGAGE. Read more about her series titled, War, Redacted, and the exhibition she has co-curated with 10YAC Galleries curator, Susanne Slavick.

About her recent work, specifically the War, Redacted series: “I began working on the War, Redacted series after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The work was intended to provoke dialogue and investigation into a conflict that the U.S. Central Command labeled “The Long War” and often refers to as a multi-generational conflict. What does this mean for individual soldiers, their families, and their communities? What does this mean for U.S. citizens, on whose behalf this war is being waged?

Cropped and reproduced in access+ENGAGE with permission of the artist.

Each piece in the War, Redacted series began with a photographic image of U.S. military casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan arriving at Dover Air Force base in Delaware. The original images were taken by military photographers. Most of the photographs were taken inside transport planes or on the tarmac at Dover.  These images were then painted, or ‘redacted’, with black paint. At the time of the creation of this body of work, all photographs of Iraq and Afghanistan war casualties arriving at Dover AFB were suppressed by the Pentagon.

Cropped and reproduced in access+ENGAGE with permission of the artist.

The original images were made available through two unrelated Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA) requests: one by Mr. Russ Kick of Arizona; the other by Professor Ralph Begleiter of the University of Delaware. President Barack Obama has since lifted the ban, and allows the families of the fallen to decide whether to invite the media to record the ceremonies at Dover AFB. More generally, my work explores the duality and temporal nature of life and contemporary social issues. As an artist and engaged citizen, I continue to be inspired by the intersection of art and political expression and believe that artists who choose this path have a role to play in shaping the public consciousness.

More information about the exhibit: No Glory10 Years and Counting group exhibition at Form + Content Gallery in Minneapolis, curated by Camille Gage and Susanne Slavick, opens with a reception on September 10 (7 – 9 pm), and will be on view from September 8 – October 1. There is a gallery talk about the show scheduled for September 18 (3 – 5 pm), featuring Veterans’ Book Project participants Luke Leonard and Riley Sharbanno in a discussion moderated by Camille Gage.  

About the artist: Camille J. Gage began her  creative journey in her teens, writing music and touring with a variety of bands including the critically lauded, all-female alt-rock band Tetes Noires. She later segued into public art and mixed-media performance, often with a topical edge, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Gage’s work has been shown at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), the Weisman Museum, and the Katherine Nash Gallery, among others. She has performed at the Walker Art Center, the MIA, and First Avenue in Minneapolis, and many venues in New York City including The Bottom Line, The Knitting Factory, and Folk City.

Gage has received grants from FORECAST Public Artworks, Intermedia Arts, and was a recipient of a Southern Theater Overtones Commission. Her work is in numerous individual and institutional collections, including the Weisman Art Museum, the MIA, Walker Art Center, the Family Housing Fund, the Minnesota Historical Society and Carleton College. Gage is also one of the founding members of Form + Content Gallery, an artist’s cooperative in Minneapolis. Gage and the community of artists and activists who created 10YAC believe that creative energy can be a powerful force for change: “We hope to turn this anniversary of devastation into an unstoppable, irrepressible explosion of imagining the possible, a new beginning.”

Look for a personal essay by Camille Gage, about the intersections between her artwork, political and personal lives, and her vision for the artist’s role in bearing witness to the toll of a decade at war on mnartists.org next week.

Credits: All images courtesy of the artist. Middle right and bottom right, both untitled altered photographs from the War, Redacted series by Camille Gage.

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