‘american kills’ by chilean-born new york based artist sebastian errazuriz is a public installation showcasing the suicide rates of US soldiers. after searching on official war sites on the internet, he accidentally found out that 2 times more american soldiers had died in 2009 by committing suicide than those killed during that same year in the war in iraq; an alarming comparison that errazuriz had personally never read or heard about before.
according to the artist, a first google search showed only reports of media alarm about suicide rates, but the information was always comfortably presented divided into months and generally separated by statistics from the army, navy or air-force.
when I first found the overall statistics summed the 304 suicides by US soldiers during 2009, I was shocked. I tried to find a number to compare that statistic. to my surprise the suicide statistic doubled the total of 149 US soldiers that had died in the iraq war during 2009 and equaled the number of soldiers killed in afghanistan.’ – SR
errazuriz’s first instinct was to post the statistic on facebook, dumbfounded by the lack of response and interest, he bought can of black paint and decided to ‘post’ the news in the real world on his own wall outside his studio in brooklyn. equipped with a ladder, he marked a black strip for every dead soldier, until both the suicide rates and war rates occupied the entire wall and were registered as a single image.
‘the counting of dead soldiers outside my studio was long and surprisingly eerie; it was hard to forget that every brush stroke was a soldier who had died the previous year. a lot of people stopped to read the mural and were immediately impressed by the reality portrayed. most of them seemed quite shocked and approached me to ask if what I waspainting was real. I tried to explain that I simply wished to create a physical image that could capture people’s imagination, creating awareness of the current numbers in death, war and the infinite discrepancy between the resources and energies destined to fight and protect soldiers at war versus the energies invested in protecting their mental healthand stability.’- SRdesigner