Tunisian Americans

MAKER:
Artist

Nadia Kaabi-Linke

DATE:
2012
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General Description

Following the United States' six-month-long campaign in Tunisia during World War II, nearly 3,000 US soldiers were buried there in an American military graveyard. Seventy-five years later, the fallen soldiers have rested considerably longer in Tunisia than they lived in America.

Tunisian Americans presents soil from four hundred of the American graves in glass flacons, small vials traditionally used to sell kohl. Labeled with the service number marking each grave, the flacons' arrangement mimics the gridded layout of a cemetery, drawing attention to the compartmentalization and abstraction of individual fatalities amidst mass casualties. In their death and subsequent memorials, the soldiers become both equal and indistinguishable.

Although the Tunisian population was not involved in WWII, under French colonial rule the country was occupied as a battleground. During occupation, Tunisian resistance to colonial powers grew, generating an independence movement. In considering American solders' presence in Tunisia, Tunisian Americans questions the practice of defending one's country within the borders of another, while illustrating the complex global history of colonization in North Africa.

Excerpt from

Elise Armani, DMA Label text, Body Ego, 2018.