All's Fair in Love & War 2007/2008

All’s Fair in Love and War is a four channel video installation. The title of this piece comes from a proverb that claims that people in love and soldiers in wartime are not bound by the rules of fair play. It seems highly ironic that there would ever be such a thing as fair play in conflict and violence.

The subject of these videos is a man who is a weapons specialist and his current profession is educating on how to kill and defend. This man came to find himself in this profession due to his love of weapons. He is not in love with killing but merely with the tools that accomplish it. This is like loving someone you know you shouldn’t. He has a vast knowledge of these tools that goes beyond any immature power lust. He knows the full history of any weapon he handles and can methodically tell you about it. He is more of a craftsman who appreciates the detail and function of specialized equipment. The conflict is that these tools are weapons and weapons represent and remind us of the barbarism of human kind- an icon of violence.

The videos are direct- shot in one take in a domestic setting with the subject in street clothes. There is no disguising the human veracity or the real grounded space he occupies. The candidness of the subject becomes unsettling because we recognize the truth in his words. He is detached as he tells you the quickest way to kill someone with a four-inch knife, the bleed out time, and the full history and make of the knife you might do it with. This is a lesson that has been recited before. The act of repeating image or word naturally conditions and desensitizes the initial reaction. In addition, the simple act of reading a news article or watching television about war has already removed the viewer away-voyeurism of destruction. It is unclear whom this man is speaking to because he seems to address the viewer. If this is a lesson then the viewer starts to become a participant by watching the piece. The level of impact of this information exchanged depends on the viewer’s association with violence.

Despite the fact that there are actual rules to warfare it seems odd to have such restraint during vicious contact. The proverb All’s Fair in Love and War is a contradiction because all parties involved never truly win.

*Due to the nature of these videos they are password protected*