Tapestry of Disaster, Napalm

Place Asia: Vietnam
Accession Number AWM2016.162.1
Collection type Art
Measurement 18.5 x 41 cm
Object type Textile
Physical description cotton cross stitch
Maker Cordeiro, Sean
Healy, Claire
Date made 2012
Conflict Vietnam, 1962-1975

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


Tapestry of Disaster, Napalm, 2012, focuses on the Vietnam War and the devastating effect of Napalm on landscapes and civilians. The US used Napalm in the Vietnam War to kill guerrilla fighters hiding in forested areas. Dropped as a bomb it causes huge firestorms which immolate cities and landscapes and suffocate hiding enemy. The difficulty of containing the explosion resulted in many civilian casualties.

There are three tapestries in this series, each individual work explores more specific histories/legacies related to conflicts since the Vietnam War. In transposing these events into the medium of a tapestry, which is a time-intensive task, the artists undergo an act of commemoration of the tragedy of the imaged event. The Tapestry of Disaster series, as a whole, explores how fossil fuels, and petroleum fuel in particular, are rapidly consumed in our contemporary age, which has led to enormous wealth and development throughout the world but also immense global instability. The artists are interested in how petroleum fuel has many relationships to conflict.

Tapestries across various histories and cultures have been used to record important events, including representations of battles, and cultural and religious practices. Healy and Cordeiro replace these traditional scenes with images of explosions only. Viewed in this context the artists encourage a contemplative perspective on our highly violent and destructive epoch.