Tapestry of Disaster, Fallujah

Accession Number AWM2016.162.3
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall - Conservation: 92 mm x 198 mm x 55 mm
Object type Textile
Physical description cotton cross stitch
Maker Cordeiro, Sean
Healy, Claire
Date made 2013
Conflict Afghanistan, 2001-2021
Iraq, 2003-2013

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


Tapestry of Disaster, Fallujah, 2013, is an image of one of many car bombs which have exploded in Fallujah since insurgency activity during the Second Iraq War and which has continued with ISIS assaults in Iraq. It explores the role of asymmetrical warfare in contemporary conflict. The use of petroleum, including standard vehicle and aircraft fuel, as a weapon has played a crucial part in this development. Its effectiveness as a terrorist weapon stem from it having highly explosive properties while being readily transportable, inexpensive, and used in everyday civilian life. Petroleum IEDs have greatly shaped the outcome of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and have been used to bring conflict to everyday urban environments outside of war zones in a new and devastating way.

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.