War Stories by Peter Drake
A combination of stop motion, live action and digital effects bring a collection of lead toy soldiers to life. Placing the figures in settings that are both familiar and unexpected I hope to highlight some of the consequences of the history of conflict epitomized by these lead toys. A victory parade is haunted by wounded soldiers and pockmarked dogs, severed heads roll across barren stages, and mutant horsemen gallop in slow motion down Manhattan avenues. This is not a critique of any one conflict but rather a reflection of a military adventurism that has marked the history of the world.
This 2009-2011 body of work is based on a collection of lead soldiers my father assembled over the course of his life. When I inherited them I was surprised to see how many depicted Arab and North African soldiers. There were Zouaves, Saracens, Mamaluks and Ottoman Turks. I am struck by how often children's toys have been used to depict another culture as enemy combatants, that even in child's play the other could take on a menacing and evil aspect. What was the logic for creating this terrain? Tens of thousands of children playing with tens of thousands of toys, training for who knows what?
As a painter I have always thought of my work cinematically, I set the stage and then fill it with props and actors so I began the process of teaching myself the basics of After Effects software so I could animate my paintings. In the past the challenge was always to find the one frame that completely embodied the narrative. In the video animations I'm working with tens of thousands of frames. Strangely it feels like I'm still painting, just in time and space.