Today I’ve been working on a pencil sketch of Goya’s ‘Great deeds! against the dead!’, this time I’ve redacted the bodies. Not so much erased but simply missing, leaving a virgin white space where they should be.
This image by Holzer is one of a series and like Goya it deals with war and the atrocities that occur during conflict. She blows up (80×62″) and screen prints these official State documents, complete with the original redactions, censoring the deeds and the identities. Similarly Goya had a tendency to avoid the faces and therefore the identities of those in acting war crimes. Both artists uncover the unsavoury underbelly of war, whilst Goya concentrated on the front lines, Holzer focuses on the bureaucracy of the back office, both equally shocking.
“Holzer didn’t have to doctor these documents for heightened effect; the black bars that enshroud the names of victims and their tormentors speak for themselves. One autopsy report describes the fatal suffocation of a prisoner of war forced to maintain a stress position. In some cases nearly whole documents are ominously blacked out, like a national Rorschach test.”