Artists have always explored, recorded, and memorialized war in paintings, sculpture, and more recently, in photography. One of the earliest instances of wartime documentary photography is Roger Fenton, who chronicled the Crimean War in 1855 with a mobile darkroom. During the First and Second World Wars, the British Imperial War Museum commissioned artists, such as John Singer Sargent, to archive the efforts of the American and British troops.
In recent history, contemporary artist have created a variety of images, texts, paintings, and public works to explore and protest armed conflicts, such as Doris Salcedo, whose public community-based work, “Sumando Ausencias,” remembers victims who lost their lives due to violence between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
With so much armed conflict rooted in historical contexts unfolding across the world today it is essential to remember the many lives that are lost and destroyed in active wars. Kei Ito and R.L. Tillman both explore narratives of war largely through found object and text-based works, and both artists include tools of reproduction (a radio), or a reproduced object (a poster). While Ito leans on a more personal narrative to probe the continued legacy of violence, Tillman dissects printmaking history, wartime advertisements and reminiscence in social media today.