War Rug Project

Barbara Koenen's avatar Barbara Koenen

I recreate Afghan war rugs in public performances inspired by Tibetan Buddhist sand mandalas. But instead of sand, I use spices. War rugs first appeared in the late 70s, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Tribal artisans, mostly women, began to weave images of weapons into traditional carpet patterns. Subtle at first, the images of grenades + tanks eventually dominated the rugs, erasing centuries of previous motifs. My spice war rugs are made on the floor, taking several days, after which the colorful and fragrant installation is left unattended, vulnerable to accident or deliberate intervention. Like the Buddhist sand mandalas, fingerprints + footprints only reveal its impermanence. The process comes full circle when monoprints are pulled at the closing. The colorful pattern, footprints and all, is captured accurately in the first impression, but the weapons are destroying with each subsequent print. For ArtPrize, I will create a 9/11 War Rug.

Entry Details
  • Art form: 2-D
  • Depth: 0
  • Medium: spices, felt, popper firecrackers, framed prints on canvas
  • Width: 0
  • Year created: 2011
  • Height: 0