Monday, June 30, 2014

"Everyday Suspects": Chicago Exhibition Delves Into Drone Invasion of Everyday Life

A new exhibition in Chicago is a stunning illustration of the way the arts are being used in unexpected ways to dig into the deep questions raised by drones and drone warfare:

In Everyday Suspects, BOLT Resident Sabba S. Elahi examines agents of warfare, calling into question the scrutinization of our everyday actions.

The exhibition presents a working list of Pakistani drone casualties, collected from an online archive published by the Bureau of Investigative Journalists. Her hand-embroidered and drawn imagery moves the viewer through aerial and peripheral views of domestic and civil spaces, the benign and the personal. Elahi’s work interrogates what is happening in many Muslim American communities, monitored where they live, work, and pray. Elahi’s human suspects haunt us with the vulnerability of the mundane and subtle gestures of everyday patterns.

Special Event

Everyday Suspects closing reception, and performance by Ahalya Satkunaratnam:
July 17, 5:30-8:00pm, Chicago Artist Coalition, 217 N Carpenter St., Chicago, IL 60607

Related posts

Two dramatic productions give Chicago audiences opportunities to explore the questions of where drones and drone warfare are leading us.

(See Drone Drama: Chicago Productions Ask Where Drones Are Taking Us)

Creative resistance is the heart of the movement to stop drone surveillance and warfare. There were wonderful examples across the country during the April Days of Action Against Drones 2013. Check out all the resources linked below . . . and contribute your own!

(See Creative Resistance in the NSDSW Wiki)

The Drones Quilt Project is currently on tour across the USA. The exhibit consists of 3 to 5 quilts of 36 blocks, each measuring 66″ x 66″, four information panels measuring 20″ x 30″ each, and a resource/take action handout. We hope to have the exhibit travel the country, so if you are interested in hosting the exhibit in your town . . .

(See Radical Quilting: Contribute To The Drones Quilt Project)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Drone Drama: Chicago Productions Ask Where Drones Are Taking Us

Two dramatic productions give Chicago audiences opportunities to explore the questions of where drones and drone warfare are leading us.

TWO DAYS ONLY: Silk Road Rising staged reading of Unmanned
Directed by Sandeep Das

June 28 - June 29, 2014

"By turns comic and appalling, Unmanned dramatizes the lives of two drone operators in a remote desert in the American Southwest—one, a retired male fighter pilot who is terrified to fly; the other, a young female gamer who has never flown. This sets the stage for an exploration of the bizarre and disturbing profession of the military drone “pilot” and the ways in which technology has radically altered contemporary life and warfare.

Performances held at Pierce Hall at The Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W Washington St, Chicago

Saturday, June 28 at 4:00pm
Sunday, June 29 at 4:00pm

Advance tickets available.

GROUNDED at Greenhouse Theater

"A hot-rod F16 fighter pilot’s unexpected pregnancy ends her career in the sky. Repurposed to flying remote-controlled drones in Afghanistan from an air-conditioned trailer near Vegas, the Pilot struggles through surreal twelve-hour shifts far from the battlefield, hunting terrorists by day and being a wife and mother by night. A tour de force play for one actress, GROUNDED flies from the heights of lyricism to the shallows of workaday existence, targeting our assumptions about war, family, and the power of storytelling."

Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago

Runs through July 13

Full information and tickets

Related posts

Grounded raises tough questions. I was hoping that the play would challenge the idea that killing people with drones is good. It's a reflection of the seriousness of this work that that is just one of the issues it raises; others include our society's willingness to destroy the people who we employ to "serve" ("serve our country," serve us in general), our culture's worship of violence / use of force, and the consequences of pervasive surveillance.

(See "Everything Is Witnessed": Searching for "the Guilty" in GROUNDED )

Leveling Up is the creative work that demonstrates just how thoroughly America's new ways of warfare have become intertwined with the other dominant strands in our culture.

(See Level Up, Step Up, Grow Up, Man Up . . . Wake Up)

In Chicago on Good Friday, 2013 (March 29), a cast consisting of long-time Chicago antiwar activists was joined by a NY playwright (and defendant in actions against US drone bases), Jack Gilroy, for one of the events kicking off a month-long campaign of anti-drones events across the country: a performance of Gilroy's play, The Predator.

(See "The Predator" in Chicago - Good Friday, 2013 - "A Passion Play for the Drones Era")

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Report Back from "On the Road to Ground the Drones" Walk

by Bob Palmer

As many of you know, I just returned from participating in the "On the Road to Ground the Drones" walk from Chicago to Battle Creek, MI organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence. About 50 people participated in some part of the 160 mile walk over 12 days, with a dozen or so of us walking the whole way.

We started on June 3 at Boeing corporate headquarters in Chicago, where the manufacture of drones and conventional war planes are managed and designed. We finished on June 14, with about 100 people holding an action at the Michigan Air National Guard Facility at the Battle Creek Airport, site of a new drone command center. Along the way, we talked to lots of people, made presentations to local groups and reached out to local media.

There are many reasons to be opposed and/or concerned about the use of armed drones--from their use in assassinations that violate international law to how they create more ill will towards the United States in the communities where they often kill innocent bystanders. Many educational resources are available at the Drone Warfare Awareness and Resistance Resources page on the Voices for Creative Nonviolence website.

Perhaps most broadly, when the only risk of killing and injuring people is on "the other side," it provides yet another rationale for the United States to first look to pursuing military means to resolve our conflicts instead of pursuing nonviolent strategies that are only sustainable way to secure peace for the long-term. I'm reminded of this as President Obama seems to be evaluating whether to use armed drone strikes in Iraq to address a conflict that primarily seems to be caused by sectarianism that all our years of war making have made worse (see Democracy Now: "As Obama Considers Drone Strikes in Iraq, Could U.S. Military Action Worsen Sectarian Conflict?").

Aside from raising awareness about drone warfare, the walk was also a good experience for conversing with others about all sorts of stuff and experiencing the world in a slow and focused way that is often absent in modern life. We walked along Chicago's Lakefront path, industrial areas in East Chicago, downtown Gary, the Indiana Dunes, upscale vacation communities on Lake Michigan, small towns along the Red Arrow Highway in Michigan and many sorts of other places. A few of us even squeezed in a visit to Bells' Brewery in Kalamazoo:) Thankfully, it only rained heavily one day!

Here's an article from the Friends Committee on National Legislation from late last year that provides a good background on issues related to drones and several links to more resources: "U.S. Drone Policy: Morally Indefensible" by Matt Southworth

Read more about the work of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, including press coverage of the walk.

I've posted some photos of the walk on Flickr.

Thanks for reading!


PS: Like Voices for Creative Non-Violence on Facebook

PPS: Like Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK on Facebook, too. (Lots more walk photos here!)