Inspiration is often triggered by the acknowledgment of imminent danger and heightened when we feel the forces of life near the beginning or end of its' temporal cycle.
As 1991 was drawing to a close and Mona Jimenez was about to begin a residency at Light Work, the recent Gulf War was very much in her thoughts. She was very much opposed to the war and feared that the draft would be reinstated and her 19 year old son would be called into the conflict. This scenario never came to fruition, but it was the spark she needed to look at how past wars had greatly affected her family and her life.
Her father had fought against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War and her brother had served in Vietnam. After her father died in October 1991, Jimenez found photographs and letters recounting his war experiences. During her residency in November 1991, she used these photographs and letters as the raw material for the images reproduced here, which she created on our Amiga computer system.
The snapshots Jimenez used were taken while her father was in a prisoner of war camp and the text is taken from letters he sent to his mother. By using only portions of the letters and layering the text of one letter over another, Jimenez obscures personal information while highlighting the universal nature of correspondence between sons and mothers during war.
The words that Jimenez selects for emphasis or that emerge from the layered text ring of protection and reassurance. The words 'home' 'thinking' 'soon' 'leaving' - predominate the hand written letters. As she later discovered, the same protective language is present in her brother's letters that he wrote to their mother from Vietnam.
In a time when devastating confrontations like the Gulf War can mobilize almost overnight, Jimenez's work is a powerful and passionate reminder that the profound disruption and loss of families is a common thread that connects every war, no matter who is declared the winner.
Mona Jimenez lives in Rochester, New York.
Jeffrey Hoone (c)1992