In an empty field in the heavily bombed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa region of Pakistan, a massive portrait shows the face of a little girl, her eyes innocent yet piercing. This giant print was installed by a collaboration of artists and local villagers as a part of the project #NotABugSplat, designed to target the Predator drone operators who routinely harm civilians in their drone strikes.
The artist collective, consisting of Americans, Pakistanis, and the French artist JR, was appalled to learn of the military slang “bug splat,” which is a term coined by drone operators to refer to kills, since viewing the body through a grainy video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed. #NotABugSplat was born in response to this insensitivity as well as the dehumanizing nature of drone operations.
With this portrait of a nameless child, whose parents and siblings were killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2010, the artist-activists hope to call attention to civilian casualties that occur as collateral damage in drone operations in Pakistan. According to the project’s website, “Now, when viewed by a drone camera, what an operator sees on his screen is not an anonymous dot on the landscape, but an innocent child victim's face.”