Artistic interventions: gender, nation and the Afghanistan mission

Redi Koobak

This article explores state-commissioned war art as a particular means of reproducing nationalism and suggests that further in-depth study of this type of war art broadens the critical reflection on contemporary war narratives and military deaths. A critical reading of artistic representations produced as a response to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan explores the complexities and ambiguities of national and international security and war initiatives. The primary focus is on artwork by Estonian artist Maarit Murka, which was produced as a result of her being embedded with the military in Afghanistan. The analysis speaks to the tension between art, war, commemoration, and national belonging as well as to the changing gender relations in the Estonian context. By comparing Murka’s artworks with Danish examples of state-commissioned artworks, I argue that the manner in which these artworks address the gendered myth of protection and the relationship between the home front and the war front both reproduce and destabilise gendered and nationalist discourses of militarisation and justifications for war.