Viktor Koen: Damsels in Armor

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    Damsels in Armor


Creation Year:




Artist Statement:

    Traditional war memorials have adhered to a strict code of remembrance: commemorate the dead by distancing death and achieve public consensus through application of a conservative aesthetic. If truth is the casualty in these classic depictions, a greater good remains permanently enshrined: consolation for the bereaved and elevation of the fallen to cult status. Society needs to rally youth to fight future wars, and these monumental odes to martyrdom provide the necessary inspiration.

    Damsels in Armor is a civics lesson of another order: 24 unsanctioned monuments testifying to war’s truly brutal cost. Rising above the detritus of battle, these damsels bear witness to the inevitable price of engagement; no suit of armor can shield them from the acid scars of battle, now permanently etched on their once-beautiful faces. Triumph’s glory has proved to be transient. Corrosion defaces, distorts, reveals. This gallery of figures forces us to acknowledge a reality understandably edited for commissioned monuments: every victory is Pyrrhic.

    A fusion of sculptural elements, weapons, and armor, these “victory” compositions have historical roots in works like “Nike of Samothrace” and Delacroix’s celebrated painting “Liberty Leading the People.” Elements and details were juxtaposed digitally for a seamless, almost painterly finish, traditional in its look, if unorthodox in content. The damsels’ faces were selected from 1940s and 1950s commercial photography, another era when truth was glamorized for mass consumption. Original photography of armaments was done at the Arms and Armor Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York City Police Museum, and the War Museum of Greece.