Sacred Defence by Wawryzyniec Kolbusz examines how war imagery is constructed and fictionalised in order to create new memories of war.

Sacred Defence, embedded mainly in the post-war reality of the Iraq-Iran war, presents artificial war images and reconstructs historical events to create a group memory. It traces existing constructions of fake war narratives. It then creates a new, war-related reality using digitally amended satellite images of Iranian nuclear installations.

Sacred Defence is a game which images make us believe we can see the war, however, we are looking at illusions. We begin to understand how social and political importance is created within different spaces and narrations. A cinema city, a film set constructed solely for the purpose of shooting war movies, is a self-referencing space. The city was created not to be experienced itself, but to lend itself to the growing body of war imagery. Museums mimic the wartime reality to the smallest detail. Wax figures of martyrs allow us to meet fallen heroes and plastic replicas of antipersonnel mines are sold as souvenirs.

On a play between the copy and the original, Kolbusz leads us to the point in the fake war narrative where he has created a new copy. He amends satellite images of Iranian nuclear installations with mutually exclusive versions of destruction, which may be caused by a hypothetical Western strike. Buildings destroyed in some images stand intact in others and all parallel versions of the same event are presented on a single satellite map.

On one hand, we have alternative versions of destruction, but on the other, we see a multiplication of the same strike. This repetition is required, to use Milan Kundera’s view, to create real meaning in historical events. Yet, in his self-referencing simulations, Kolbusz does not use past events as a basis but instead is plotting alternatives and producing ‘proofs’ of an event that never happened despite being widely discussed in the media.

More of Wawryzyniec Kolbusz’s work can be seen here.

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