CURA is honored to participate in The DogTag Project, a large-scale, interactive public art project developed by Holly Laws that centers around the distribution of military inspired dog-tags, stamped not with the names of warriors, but with fragments of poetic text. These texts speak to the human consequences of war, the notion of a shared humanity, and the persistence of memory.
They are meant to raise questions and inspire reverie and reflection. The DogTag Project is not a single event at one point on the map, but rather an ongoing event that materializes in hundreds of locations. It is meant for everybody and anybody – as wide an audience as those potentially affected by the losses incurred in war.
Dog tags have found their way into the hands of people across the globe. The DogTag Project has turned up in cities across the United States including Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta and Seattle, and to points outside the U.S. including cities in Canada, Poland, Germany, Kenya, Brazil, India, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Italy, England, Australia, and Serbia. To date nearly 6000 pairs of dog tags bearing 12 different text fragments have been distributed throughout the world.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN: The prototypes for the DogTag Project were created for a theatrical adaptation of The Iliad which Laws helped design in 2000 at the International Theater Program of the University of Rochester. After the horrific events of September 11, and the global political responses to them, the dog tags gained new meaning for the artist. The 3000 year old Homeric quote "There is nothing alive more agonized than man of all that breathes and crawls across the earth," stamped into the tags seemed so unexpectedly timely as to be prescient. Laws says, "I began wearing my set of tags again. I found myself fingering the tags' raised text as if they were prayer beads. In addition to the obvious military association, I began to see the tags as small monuments to all personal sacrifice that results from blind patriotism and jingoism." The dog tags could be a symbol of national solidarity and simultaneously describe deep mourning for the individual loss that was occurring on all sides of a complex conflict. Out of this personal response, the DogTag Project was born.
Dog tags are typically distributed gratis and distributed organically through personal networks. Dog tags have therefore never been available to the general public. As a special exception to this case, Holly is making a limited edition of six tags available through CURA.
Holly Laws currently teaches three-dimensional design and contemporary media at the University of Central Arkansas. Laws holds a BFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University, and an MFA in Sculpture from Tyler School of Art, Temple University.
Texts of dog tags available through CURA:
THIS IS THE PERSON
WHO IS NOT A PERSON
THIS IS THE BODY
THAT IS NOT A BODY
AND SO AS KINSMEN
WE WALKED BETWEEN THE ROOMS
ONCE WHEN I WAS LIVING
NEAR THE END OF THE WORLD
I COULD DO NOTHING
THIS IS TO SAY I WAS A CHILD
ANYONE IS EVERYONE