Rebecca Loyche is a New York-based video artist. She will be participating in the spring term of the Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) program at the Bronx Museum. Her work will be on view in the AIM show in June.
All’s Fair in Love and War is a three-channel video installation that was on view at Exit Art’s Show, Love/War/Sex in January. The title of this piece comes from a proverb that claims that people in love and soldiers in wartime are not bound by the rules of fair play. Yet, it seems highly ironic that there would ever be such a thing as fair play in conflict and violence.The subject of these videos is a man who is a weapons specialist. His current profession is educating others how to kill and defend themselves. This man found himself in this profession due to his love of weapons. He is not in love with killing but merely with the tools that accomplish it. This is like loving someone you know you should not love. His vast knowledge of these tools is beyond any immature lust for power. He knows the full history of any weapon he handles and he can methodically tell you about each one. He is a craftsman who appreciates the detail and function of specialized equipment. The concern is that these tools are weapons, and weapons represent and remind us of the barbarism of human kind—they are icons of violence.
The videos are direct—shot in one take in a domestic setting with the subject in street clothes. There is no disguising the human veracity or the real grounded space he occupies. The candidness of the subject becomes unsettling because we recognize the truth in his words. He is detached as he tells you the quickest way to kill someone with a four-inch knife, the bleed out time, and the full history and make of the knife you might use. This is a lesson that has been recited before. The act of repeating words and images naturally conditions and desensitizes one’s initial reaction. In addition, the simple act of reading a news article or watching television about war has already placed the viewer at a distance. It becomes voyeurism of destruction. It is unclear to whom this man is speaking because he seems to address the viewer. If this is a lesson, then, through the act of watching the piece, the viewer becomes the student. The level of impact of the information that is exchanged depends on the viewer’s association with violence.
Despite the fact that there are actual rules to warfare, it seems odd to have such restraint during vicious contact. The use of weapons in this capacity assures harm. The proverb “All’s fair in love and war” is a contradiction because none of the parties involved truly win.