David and Jonathan
David and Jonathan
Inkjet on watercolour paper
80 x 60 centimeters

In 2014, when the news filtered out from the Syrian civil war about the terrorist group Islamic State's use of beheading videos as a tactic of fear I began to wonder about the durability of this ancient barbaric practice. These atrocities were clearly designed to capture the media's attention and instill dread into the comfortable citizens of the western nations. The message was also crafted to appeal to an aggrieved youth whose cultural diet of violent video games and gangsta rap music made them receptive to the revolutionary creed offered by I.S.

The biblical tale of the vanquishing of the giant Goliath at the hands of David, a youth sent to take him out with the humblest of weapons, the slingshot, seemed an appropriate metaphor of the Islamic State's optomistic but ultimately ill-fated agenda. Beheading is a gruesome act which I have no appetite for, so I chose to reimagine its aftermath depicted by Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano in his painting of David carrying his trophy of Goliath's head whilst casually wandering the countryside accompanied by his friend Jonathan.

I dressed the youths in street gear popular at the time; baseball cap, hoodie, track pants and sneakers, unmindful that this clothing was popular with the disaffected youth Islamic State had attracted from the west as recruits, that information was reported some months later. The jacket and sneaker strewn on the ground is a detail from news reports about the terrified fleeing Iraqi army discarding any evidence of their complicity with the government. The background features mcmansions typical of Australian suburbia of the last few decades, they are included as a symbol of peace and stabilty a universe away from the turmoil in Syria but they also spawned some of Islamic State's recruits.

Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano, David and Jonathan : National Gallery, London