Green on Blue: The betrayal of trust
Winner 2018 Napier Waller Art Prize
On 29 October 2011, in Kandahar province, an Afghan soldier calmly began firing his machine-gun at twelve Australian soldiers who had been tasked with mentoring the Afghan Army. Three Australian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter were killed, another nine wounded.
My friend and former colleague Sergeant Robert Althofer recalled the confusion. It was a holiday period, during which Afghans would commonly fire into the sky. Althofer, who was shot in the leg, knows he cheated death that day and wonders if he had trained the betrayer. These attacks are known as “Green on Blue” and occur regularly, most often due to Taliban infiltration or defection. The threat of attacks within secure areas increases the already inherent danger of deployment.
My work references Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ to invoke the treachery and complexity of these attacks. Althofer’s lack of body armor and interlocked fingers symbolise vulnerability and unpreparedness. Afghan soldiers, frustrated and disapproving of the attack, attempt to provide aid; Althofer’s life was saved by a tourniquet. The chaos of the scene is captured in frenetic, expressive strokes of charcoal on paper – the medium itself becoming a metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life.
charcoal on snowdon archival paper
unframed: 161 x 195 x 3 cm; framed: 166 x 200 x 3 cm