This series is an inquiry riding the line between human/subhuman, inside/outside, and what is quotidian/sacred. Homo Sacer (Latin for "the sacred man" or "the accursed man") is a figure of Roman law: a person who is banned and may be killed by anybody, but may not be sacrificed in a religious ritual. By applying flowers (gendered biomasses) to shooting targets (racialized biomasses) purchased from Law Enforcement Targets, the subjects in this series grapple with the possibility of using gender to deconstruct race. What is the range of possibility for the flattened and generic “Arab/Muslims” whose image is used to provide consumers necropower—the power over life and death—as a commodity?
To map an iconography of iconoclasm I placed fresh flowers on these shooting targets, and photographed them, to see if they might grow beyond symbols of dominion over human beings. How does one get outside of an already-othered existence? What does an escape beyond the state of exception look like other than martyrdom?
These people on the targets are already dead. They are not seen as other than that. They have no name or voice. Their value is equal to the price of the target sheets--$0.99 to $1.29. The absurdity of these prices also draws a parallel to the compensation given to the families of an actual person who is killed by the military-industrial complex. But of course, the global war machine is an economy of violence. . The Muslim is always in the center of it. The Muslim is not seen as an individual. Islam is not seen as a religion. It’s an ideology, inherently evil.
These images are mass reproduced by the thousands and with intent to dehumanize, or reinforce the Muslim as a violent, inherent evil. These images are reinforced in the media: print, social media, movies. It’s a one sided conversation because the image is being spoken for but cannot respond back. The only “Good Muslim” is the obedient Muslim who does not speak out. This has a historical connection to Native Americans and African Americans and the treatment of the colonized. In this sense, the structural position of the signifier, “terrorist,” serves a role in the Western world which is priceless––i.e. more consequential than its monetary price.
Can the Muslim be an individual? Can a target have agency? Is the West’s construction of the Muslim image escapable, usable, and indestructible? What does resistance look like, is it in the metallic killing machine, in the organic mass, in an ideology?