Depictions of famous battles –or war in general—are both wildly fascinating for an audience but often grotesque. Anonymity is certainly not a fixture of conflicts these days, with reports of singular soldier deaths become headline news. Before the rapid intake of information, many armies, even historically speaking, were approached with en masse perspective. Soldiers were bodies used for a purpose, a greater cause, and not usually looked at singularly in an emotional, social context. The way in which artist Dominic Wilcox, a British artist and designer, interprets war combines both notions of fascination and grotesque depicts of human life with the idea of anonymity and emotional attachments to people.
Utilizing tiny plastic soldiers, Wilcox brings to life, so to speak, famous European battles in the form of bowls. The blue bowl here is a depiction of Napoleon’s last grand attempt at power, the Battle of Waterloo, dividing it into the British artillery and the French infantry. These pieces are quite striking because it lends a certain new perspective on the concept of war, which Wilcox says is a “permanent fixture in the history of mankind.” The history of the world is littered with conflict because that is an inherently human characteristic, as flawed as it is. Wilcox strives for a reaction of any kind by using childhood toys to represent sometimes reprehensible acts against humanity. It’s a conundrum to say the least because on the one hand war connotes protection, security, death, decay and destruction with peace as the prevailing rationalization; while these toys yield to a time of innocence, carelessness and joy that were bogged down with these adult issues of horror and terror.
It begs the question then: what are we fighting for?
By: Sarah MacDonald