Somalia Yellow Vignettes

Allan Harding Mackay

1998, 29:22 minutes, colour, English & Somali


Derived from source footage shot in March, 1993 during the artist's Canadian Armed Forces Civilian Artists assignment, with the United Nations led intervention "Somalia: Operation, Deliverance and Cordon".
The motif expressed through many of the vignettes juxtaposes high tech military might and machinery against scenes and moments of everyday life in Somalia. The tape moves through an extraordinary pictorial view of war-ravished Mogadishu, intimate portraits of Somali women in the desert and village abattoir, a view in image and text set in the Canadian military compound where a Somali youth was murdered and the accused soldier attempted suicide. Finally, a compelling look at an outdoor abattoir in Belet Huen that poetically renders in sound and image the ancient ritual of healing through a blood bath of a child at dawn.
Although there remains a larger question of the reasons for United States and subsequent United Nations Intervention in Somalia, the art acknowledges the efforts of the majority of Canadian peace keepers to achieve the goals of their humanitarian mission while honouring the Somali people's survival and continuation as a traditional society in a harsh environment amid the violence of civil war.
Somalia Yellow Vignettes is unique in the context of traditional war art in the way the artist has transformed raw documentary footage into a highly personal and aesthetic response to his experience in Somalia.

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