Friday, 19 July 2024

Textile Details

'Digital Death', Deborah Stockdale. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)
'Digital Death', Deborah Stockdale. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)


Title of Textile:Digital Death
Maker: Deborah Stockdale
Country of Origin: Republic of Ireland
Year Produced: 2014
Size (cm): 70cm x 82cm
Materials: Cotton, digital cotton prints, silk, velvet, unbleached linen and linen
Type of Textile: Arpillera

Globally, the number of states operating armed drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has quadrupled from an initial base of three - the US, Israel and UK - since the early 2000s. Drone Wars UK predict that this figure is likely to double in the near future. Drone Wars UK (2018).

In this arpillera, Deborah Stockdale, who “feel[s] strongly that drone warfare … is soul destroying” graphically depicts the chilling reality of it. She presents an image of drone operators, in a control room monitoring the drone flight, seemingly desensitized to the carnage they wreak in a country unknown to them, side by side with areas devastated by their actions. For Deborah, the image of a child’s face “is symbolic of all the innocent civilians killed by mistake in drone strikes.”

The psychological detachment of drone operators from their actual living targets deeply concerns Deborah: “… their actions and attitudes remind me of gamers, with their controls and screens… their world seems artificially constructed and at a great remove from reality.” She continues: “Warfare has turned into nameless operatives working under remote leadership, from undisclosed locations… inured to the fact that their targets are … very often, women, children and elderly who cannot escape or take cover quickly.”

In the process of creating this arpillera, Deborah drew inspiration from the work of an artist collective in the Pukhtoonkhwa region of Pakistan, an area which has suffered high civilian drone casualties, 200 of whom were children. To combat the insensitivity of American predator drone operators who refer to civilian causalities as “bug splats” alluding to the killing of an insect, the collective installed an enormous art installation of a little girl who lost two siblings and both parents in a drone attack.

Such creativity is testimony to the ongoing efforts of civil society groups to expose the reality of drone warfare and to resist war, in all its forms.

Owner: Conflict Textiles collection
Location: Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Martin Melaugh
Provenance: Donation from Deborah Stockdale.

Textile exhibited at: SMALL Actions BIG Movements, 1/07/2014 - 11/07/2014
Chilean Arpilleras, 29/06/2016 - 29/06/2016
Stitched Voices / Lleisiau wedi eu Pwytho, 25/03/2017 - 13/05/2017
Stitched Voices: Knowing conflict through textiles, 17/11/2017 - 20/12/2017
Stitched Voices - textila berättelse om politisk våld och motstånd , 29/08/2018 - 21/04/2019
Threads, War and Conflict, 3/04/2019 - 29/04/2019
Nonviolence in Action: Antimilitarism in the 21st Century, 24/03/2021 - 31/12/2021
Suitcases: Telling Textile Travels /Maletas: Contando Viajes Textiles, 1/10/2021 - 7/11/2021
Sewing Resistance to Militarism: Arpilleras and other transnational textiles, 14/11/2021 - 14/11/2021
Waking the Land, 11/07/2023 - 11/07/2023
Connecting Ties: A Transatlantic Friendship and the Northern Ireland Peace Process, 17/11/2023 - 13/03/2024
From Displacement to Empowerment, 11/06/2024 - 7/09/2024

Textile Detail Image(s)