Kat Rae


Image of artwork

Highly commended

photographic etching with chine colle and stencilling on Somerset
140 x 120 cm

The Brereton Report gave Australians a reckoning when it was released in November 2020. Reckoning centres on the 39 Afghans allegedly murdered by Australian Special Forces soldiers, and what has made us ‘collectively blind’ to the alleged atrocities.

The Australian War Memorial encourages us to revere and believe the best of the elite Special Forces, but the Brereton Report showed us that they are fallible. I meshed images of the heavily redacted Brereton Report and the Australian War Memorial together to depict where this reckoning lies.

I exposed the image onto a copper plate using photographic film, developed and then etched it in ferric acid. I printed and re-etched the plate 39 times, and each time a new image emerged. I saw a ribcage and spine in the redacted statements laid over a hollow in an image of the Australian War Memorial. Was that a grainy aerial photograph of a foreign war zone? The acid-burnt holes grew like multiple shotgun wounds across the work’s landscape. I added women in burkas who represent war’s ‘collateral damage’.

The Brereton Report finds us ‘all diminished’. Despite the sickening gravity of what happened, my artwork urges us to courageously reckon with the unvarnished truth.

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