Two Rochester artists have constructed an 18-foot-long rhinestone-laden replica of a US Predator drone, which will be shown as part of a multimedia exhibit opening Friday, March 1, at the Hampden Gallery at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The installation, "Home Drone," asks audiences to consider what life is like for people in Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan living under the threat of US drone strikes, and to visualize living under the those same conditions. The creators of the project are Heather Layton, internationally known social intervention artist and senior lecturer at the University of Rochester, and Brian Bailey, professor of adolescence education with a focus on social justice at Nazareth College.
Through their work, the artists say they seek to challenge xenophobia and consumerism and to shed light on the physical devastation as well as the psychologically terrorizing effect of living under the daily threat of sudden death or loss of loved ones. The artists hope to encourage peaceful relationships between people in America and Pakistan with the drone replica, which in its appearance alludes both to American opulence and to the violence that supports it.
"After visiting Pakistan, this topic became particularly important to us as we started to realize these drones are attacking people we now consider our friends," Layton stated in a press release. The Amherst exhibit will also include videos of the 2012 presidential candidates debating drone strikes and of civilians protesting the strikes, as well as a massive map of drone attack sites superimposed over a drawing of Massachusetts, with images of American civilian casualties who would be killed along with drone targets. The American strikes begin with Boston, historically the center for rebels during the American Revolution. The artists chose Massachusetts partly for this reason, and hope to travel the exhibit in the future. More information on the exhibit is available at 413-545-0680 and rochester.edu/news.