Inkjet on watercolour paper
90 x 60 centimetres
The television programme, Ross Kemp’s Extreme World, and the reports from Vice.com’s Simon Ostrovsky, Russian Roulette: Dispatches from Ukraine, captured fascinating visual details, as well as fine grained cultural information about the conflict in that country. Evocative images such as a featureless plain under leaden skies with distant heavy industry smokestacks, volunteer brigades in mismatched quasi-military gear and makeshift barricades employing industrial detritus. And there are the strange political affiliations of nationalist militias formed from the soccer hooligan fraternity and right wing christians, both of whom share a tendency towards violence and xenophobia.
This re-imagining employs that visual iconography and details like the thickening waistline of the combatant in overalls, suggesting a poor diet, the steroid pumped central figure in his bulging denim jacket, the smoker taking a drag on his cigarette and each figure donned in that universal symbol of violent men beyond the purview of a functional sate, the ski mask. These men fatalistically acknowledge the potential of a violent end and the skeleton eying the men is a nod to Hans Holbein’s series of woodcuts, The Dance of Death, which details the moment when the reaper arrives to claim members of various 16th century professions.
The Cross and the Sword, The Making of a Christian Taliban in Ukraine: The Intercept