War-Toys: Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip

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War-Toys : War-Toys: Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip

Brian McCarty -

WAR-TOYS: ISRAEL, WEST BANK, GAZA STRIP – Using principles of play and art therapy, children who have been affected by conflict become art directors for Brian McCarty’s photographs of toys found within warzones, placed and posed to recreate shared fears and witnessed events. The resulting images offer rare and fascinating insights into the contemporary experiences of girls and boys living on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

“My goal for WAR-TOYS is to change lives,” says artist Brian McCarty. The showing of work at Peanut Underground Art Projects and upcoming book release are the first volume in what will be a long-running project.

McCarty has been working with humanitarian organizations operating in Israel and the Palestinian Territories since 2011. With the help of internatonal experts in expressive therapies, a series of art-based interviews were conducted with children who have been affected by the ongoing conflict. The drawings that the boys and girls created, often the beginnings of longer conversations, included stark images of daily life in a warzone – soldiers, the injured, and the dead. Political idelogoies and long held beliefs at the core of the conflict are reflected in the children’s artwork and the subsequent photographs.

Locally found toys were taken to the actual locations described by the children to recreate their accounts of war. The resulting photographs document not only these moments but also the plastic playthings available to boys and girls in each area. The effect is simultaneously beautiful and disturbing. We all played with plastic toys at some point in our lives, often with the similar Playmobil and dollar store figures portrayed. We feel immediately connected to the works and cannot help but imagine ourselves as the children living the tragedies of conflict: powerless, scared, yet resilient.

For the exhibit, the drawings that the girls and boys created are included alongside the photographs. In the process of sharing their artwork, children would often reveal the details that were most important or impactful to them, but some elements were buried, as if to protect them.  The viewer’s eye may move back and forth from McCarty’s works to the children’s drawings, understanding the similarities, the differences, and most importantly, reading between the lines.

“By bearing witness through his artwork, McCarty provides the opportunity for otherwise silenced voices to be heard. He asks us all to reflect on the innocence of childhood when it is surrounded and thwarted by human suffering. He asks us not to deny its existence but, rather, to question how to play – with resolve and resilience – in the face of such reality.” – Dr. Julia Byers, Ed.D, LMHC, ATR-BC – Lesley University

Complete with a sound piece inspired by McCarty's experience in the region, “This exhibit is the powerful meeting between art and cause -- process-driven images give voice to a war-torn area’s most vulnerable inhabitants,” said curator Catinca Tabacaru.

About the artist

Brian McCarty is an internationally exhibited artist and toy industry veteran based in West Hollywood, California. His postmodern integration of concept and character has earned his photography a prominent position in the Art-Toy and Pop Surrealist movements. However, McCarty’s work is often more akin to reportage than photo-illustration. His approach is grounded in documenting actual – albeit manufactured – moments of time from a uniquely personal perspective.  Most recently, War-Toys was highlighted by the Victoria and Albert Children’s Museum in London, England.

About the curator

Catinca Tabacaru, J.D./LL.M., Founder of New York-based Tinca Art, Inc. curates War-Toys: Israel, West Bank and Gaza Strip.  She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley (2003) and her graduate degrees from Duke Law School (2007).  She spent her early career working for the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Office of Chief Defense Counsel for the Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  In 2010 she founded and then served as the first Executive Director of Women’s Voices Now.  This background in justice, conflict and human rights informs and inspires her exhibitions.

Source: http://www.peanutunderground.com

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