Created by conceptual artist Harriet Bart, Requiem is an installation memorializing the American soldiers killed in the conflict in Iraq. Bart is an artist who frequently works with the theme of commemoration, and many of her works include lists of names to emphasize the memories of anonymous or unacknowledged people who made great sacrifices.
Requiem consists of seven paper scrolls that cascade from the ceiling to the floor. Six of the scrolls are inscribed in black ink with the names of the soldiers killed in the conflict, while the seventh scroll remains blank as if waiting to be filled. A stone weights the rolled end of each scroll, while a metal plumb bob suspended on a black cord hovers over the portion of each scroll that rests on the floor. A tool used to create a true vertical reference in architecture, the plumb bob is an object that Bart has used in other artworks throughout her career. Because the plumb bob always hangs perpendicular to a tangent of the earth’s core, it is for Bart a symbol of truth, rectitude, and moral character. Here, the plumb bobs draw attention to the names on the scrolls by hanging just above them as if inscribing the long string of names. The hand-written inscriptions of the names, together with the overwhelming size of the work and the almost sacred quality of the scrolls, suggest a consecration of respect for the individuals whose lives were lost.
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