Began in 2008 and completed in 2012, Body Count is a project that seeks to question the value of civilian life in times of warfare. This piece focuses on civilian deaths that are a direct result of US involvement in Iraq. I have chosen to use the conservative numbers being collected by the IBC, whose numbers come from verifiable civilian deaths reported to the media, as the basis for this piece. It is my intent that each US penny represents one civilian life.
As the viewer enters the space, on white tables stacked in rows of 25, sits 109,107 US pennies all painted white. A single penny in its own right is very insignificant and devoid of any real value. And, like pennies being thrown into a jar at the end of a day, the total deaths in any given day of war can be easily processed, reconciled, and forgotten. But to be confronted by the vast numbers all at once is a far more difficult thing to ignore and, I hope, an emotionally arresting experience.
Spanning the “official” duration of the US/Iraq War from March 20, 2003 to December 18, 2011, the counting system for this piece is as follows: each stack of pennies equates to 25 lives, one gap between the stacks of pennies indicates a separation of months, and two gaps indicate a separation of years.