Glass Patterns (Sexual Trauma in today’s US Military).
Glass Patterns (GP) is an audio-visual installation and performance as group
portrait for social justice. The Work has been developed by the New York based
art collective ANVIL in response to an invitation by the curatorial team of Intimate
Transgressions , a multi-media group exhibition at WhiteBox exploring the
human experience of war from a gender perspective reflecting on the urgent
necessity of limiting future conflict. Glass Patterns pertains, alludes and directs
our view to, at least, a few probable causes as the roots of the phenomenon of
organized war rape and genocide rape being contained in, and unfortunately
intrinsic to, the traditional hierarchical structure of the military as-is and remains
The art work that constitutes Glass Patterns is being developed in a three stage
process. The first/current stage is the inquiry and pathological reflection of
military ethics portrayed via ‘process driven’ research and performance for the
medium of Video. Research on the topic/subject generates the material culled
from online publicly available videos as testimonial sound samples, and other
conducive information gathered via internal methods by one of the female artists
having been raised in the US Military culture.
The testimonies of surviving women veterans inform a series of performances for
video such as “Drawing a Line with my Civilian Clothes”, a performance staged
on Governor’s Island, traditional seat for the Army branch of the military in New
York City. Overall, GP asks key questions, “why enlist” and “where does the
journey begin” -for a civilian woman in the moments leading up to trading in her
civilian clothes/freedom and purported for a constraining mores of the uniform;
public nudity in such environment portrays the complex visual tenor enshrined in
the video images exposing the traditional ‘object’ (and frailty) of desire,
unbound. A moaning, shrilling sound composition is crafted with the electric violin
enveloping the surviving veteran’s voices to the tune of a strong seashore wind in
this video piece. In a surreal framework, a quasi-metaphysical scene where the
Ellis’ Island ferry transports the viewer past the iconic Statue of Liberty is paired
to the denuding body of the actress.
The video installation sketch within the GP installation, “Testimonial Totem Pole”,
consists of a looped video allowing the viewer to listen with headphones to news
reports, congressional hearings, and survivors’ sharing their stories with the
media. Echoing the military structure, there is a “chain of command” and
hierarchy that is expressed in the verticality of the five CRT video monitor
In progress are two more videos, “Treading Water” and “Suiting Up”. Both
performances for video are created as a two channel rear video screen projection
into a 1.75 liter bottle of Vodka-alcohol being a primer for seduction. It contains
sound compositions of testimonies of veterans working during active duty dealing
with the “second betrayal” and the nightmares, suicidal thoughts, and drug abuse
that often followed. A final performance for video is to be determined yet in the
research process of “the breakdown of the civilian” and the “building up” of a
solider in basic training.
The second step is working with survivors, conducting interviews and further
journalistic research on the theaters of war these veterans worked in. One
important form of research is undergoing a 30 hour New York State rape crisis
counselor certification and a 30 hour military sexual trauma training conducted
online through the Military Rape Crisis Center. This stage will help transform the
work into a rich group portrait for social justice offering the viewer a deep
understanding of the respectful sensitivity and perspective the topic requires.
Panayiota Bertzikis and Kori Cioca are muse to a series of video, performances
and paintings. They are key figures in the fight for justice as survivors of military
sexual trauma. Availed of further training, ANVIL aims to reach out to them as a
collaborator and supporter.
Interviews conducted will generate substantial content and movement leading to
the final step, that is, to engage the space and the public at WhiteBox.
The installation Glass Patterns is a backdrop for a two part performance by
invitation only. Guests and participants will be veterans, key New York
arts/cultural figures, and journalists.
The first part, “A Series of Slow Escalating Violent Gestures” features a female
performer in uniform lying in a still crucifixion pose on the ground. Participants cut
away at the uniform to the severe score of draconian music syncopated by
sudden moments of strict silence and wedged-in interviews linking memories of
the unfolding betrayal of her “band of brothers” to the hopeful road to recovery on
the home front.
The second part of the performance is a series of live “Pinning Ceremonies”
decorating survivors adjoined by a collaborating in-situ action of an ‘alternative
medicine’ doctor. Special pins and ceremonies will be created by members of
ANVIL to honor the strength, courage and aid recovery through acupuncture and