Tears of Despair: A Year of Terror is a project that recorded the major terrorist incidents around the world from 12 November, 2015 to 12 November, 2016. During that time, and still to this day, every week multiple terrorist attacks occur killing and maiming innocent children, women and men. We hear of the incidents and respond in horror, especially when they take place in a well-known place in the West, like Nice or Orlando. But each day there are even more attacks that are barely covered in Western news.
The project began after the attacks in Paris, November 2015, most famously at the Bataclan Concert Hall. Having personal attachments to that city, these events were especially horrifying to me. We in the West were sickened by them, and stood in solidarity with the French nation; learning however that just the day before, November 12, a similar attack occurred in Beirut with little Western media coverage was all the more upsetting. Every day there are attacks in warring countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq that are sometimes reported, but there are incidents in other countries like Nigeria, Yemen, Libya, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Somalia, to name a few, which go completely overlooked. These attacks are just as atrocious, just as horrifying. We in the West hardly notice. Are their lives not just as important?
For every terrorist attack, I created a small work of art, a panel measuring 17.8 x 11.8cm (7 x 4.25"), representing a wall of tears. Each panel differs only in the color and rendition of the tears. Each is unique. Though every piece can be viewed separately, and have been presented that way, they are intended to collectively be a single work of art that unfortunately grows in size with each attack. The work measured just 17.8 x 23.6 cm (two small panels) on November 13, 2015. Six months later, by May 15 and 137 major terrorist attacks, the work measured 221 x 137cm (87 x 54"). After one year it measures 432 x 180 cm (170 x 85"). When displayed side-by-side chronologically, the work stretches 4284 cm, over 140 feet.
Tears of Despair acknowledges every major terrorist attack: an attack that has twenty or more casualties. Innocents are killed for being in the wrong place, for being of a different religion or culture. In the case of Paris, the victims were killed simply for enjoying life. All incidents were caused by people who hate, who fear and who are intolerant. I did this project for one full year—that is all I could bear—to show the shocking extent of the atrocities. We need to understand these events better and acknowledge them. The project could have covered the previous year, or the following one. What is important to take away is that terrorist attacks do not stop; the innocent around the world continue to be murdered. I had simply chosen this year with the hopes of bringing awareness to this unfortunately international phenomenon that at once brings us together, and yet also tears us apart.
Tears of Despair (Installation detail), January, 2016