We are deeply disturbed by the destruction of cultural heritage worldwide, most notably in recent times with the actions of militant groups like DAESH. The reactions against DAESH, however, have also meant destruction—carpet-bombing from many countries have been responsible for the decimation of art and architecture. Why are these objects and locations targeted? What does this mean for artists—or more broadly, humanity in general?
We hope these images are jarring. It’s what is really happening, and sometimes, words aren’t enough to demonstrate the destruction. If you think these things were beautiful, and regret the loss–you have some sense of the phenomenon’s power. We are nothing, and can know nothing, without the past. And such is the power of art: it is a triumphant remainder, and a tool of narration. It is visual, often textual, and emotional. It is a tool of sentiment, as well as intelligence. To those who wish to rewrite history, to erase previous conquerors, and to assert their own regime, erasing the red thread of artistic expression is of utmost importance. In doing this, it’s as if there were no kings before themselves, and no culture of significance besides one of their nefarious design. This is not only an incredible loss to research, but is an attack on cultural identity.
The destruction of cultural heritage is more than blind hatred and physical brutality. It is a psychological affront on what makes a nation and a culture secure: its roots.