Sharon Hayes
‘9 Scripts from a Nation at War’, 2007
Ten-part video installation, colour, sound; 5 hrs, 22 mins (total running time)
Edition of 2 + 1 AP
HAYES-2009-0021

Collaboration with David Thorne, Katya Sander, Ashley Hunt, and Andrea Geyer

9 Scripts from a Nation at War is a 10 channel video installation that responds to conditions and questions that have arisen since March 2003, taking the U.S. context as an initial point of view. While 2003 marks the beginning of the invasion of Iraq by U.S. military forces, it is a conflict reaches backwards and forwards in history and memory, as a “long war” that has few, if any, boundaries.

This work is structured around a central question: How does war construct specific positions for individuals to fill, enact, speak from, or resist?

9 Scripts from a Nation at War considers the processes by which we are positioned as certain kinds of “individuals” in relation to war — artists, soldiers, students, prisoners, detainees, citizens, Iraqis, Europeans, Americans, and so on. A student or a detainee or a journalist is formed not only in relation to political and ideological conditions, but also by the agency of the individuals themselves, always struggling in response to how they are positioned.

In its current incarnation, 9 Scripts from a Nation at War is presented as a constellation of videos. Each video stages the speaking of a script. The figures who speak — a veteran, a student, a citizen, an actor, a blogger, a lawyer, a journalist, an interviewer — are performed by actors and non-actors alike, some re-speaking their own words, others learning the words of others. These stagings allow inquiry into the recording, reporting, learning, and understanding of the present moment, and to reflect upon how we account for ourselves within it.

Ashley Hunt, Katya Sander, David Thorne, and Andrea Geyer have been working together as artists, organizers, researchers, and writers on and off and in varied ways for the last seven years. Our collaborations have been prompted by the geographical dislocations inherent to contemporary art practice, in which exhibitions, teaching jobs and our other means of support as artists have an individualizing and dispersing effect. We respond by developing projects that allow for our relationships as colleagues, collaborators and community to continue. 9 Scripts from a Nation at War expands the scope and methods of our previous collaborations and marks the first time we have worked together as a group of five.