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Camoufleurs (2014)

Essay Excerpt by Shaun Wilson for Sublime/Internal/Subliminal (2017) ArtNeMe Arts Centre, Limassol Cyprus


Sublime/Internal/Subliminal brings together a cross selection of emerging and established artists who reflect this constant. Throughout the last five years, for example, global events have brought a unified social disruption - from Brexit and the war in Syria to the US election, mass refugee crisis and climate change, just to name a few -  yet many artists have reflected these disruptions in more overt political commentary in as much as they have, at the same time, travelled inwards to reflect on their own poetics and subliminal grasp of the world around them.


One of the more interesting notions about this internal approach is that the idea of political resistance is emerging as a non political methodology for artists whereby their work is, as located in Boland’s Camoufleurs video for example, interconnected with the absence of a pronounced quietness. In Boland’s piece, the effacement of stillness is transcended to represent an eerie absence not unlike the Hitchcock principle of representing screen tension with the effacements of something that is just about to happen or has just occurred. We know that by these tableaus of adolescent boys role playing soldiers that one day, perhaps, sooner than later, their fantasy of playing soldier might translate into the actuality of war where the heroicness of battle is replaced by unspeakable trauma, genocide and murder. With the recent images of the wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, the reality of combat transmitted from the technological immediacy from social media reminds us all too closely that the age old entrapment from governments and kingdoms to encourage the predatory romanticist propaganda of militaria to an unsuspecting youth is alive and well and in the case of Camoufleurs, Boland positions this Hitchcock precursory with great skill in as much as the viewer brings with them their own cultural memory attachés. Perhaps the greatest strength of this work is to unite our own awareness of battle through the innocence of these fictionalised boys playing men in the intentional manipulation of truth. I am, of course, reminded by Baudrillard's notion of simulacra whereby he considers that ‘illusion is no longer possible, because the real is no longer possible’ (Baudrillard, pp.164-184) for in itself, and, moreover, the intangibility of not only Baudrillard's comments but also the dialogue brought about by the strategies employed from Boland’s conviction posits the stillness of Camoufleurs into a space that requires no explicit explanation into the overarching meaning of the work. From its pending silence, the implicit effectiveness that renders such work as political is as much to do with the visual linkages Boland enacts as it is with the simplicity of how such linkages are mediated. This brings into question the great vulnerability of the portrayed characters romanticising the glory of battle without the conscious determinism to recognise how these actions of false heroics negate the transcendence of morality to what the popular early 1930’s anti war movement slogan often attributed to Bertrand Russell states ‘war does not determine who is right - only who is left.’ (Montreal Star, p.1)


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