THE BLOG

My Friend Audrey

03/10/2008 08:50 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

In March 2003, a group of veterans (from WWII through Iraq) joined with military families and hurricane survivors to march and convoy from Mobile, Alabama to New Orleans, Louisiana. It took six days; and the point was to take Dr. King's remark about "Every bomb dropped in Vietnam explodes over Harlem" and speak that truth into the simultaneity of the US military occupation of Iraq and the criminal neglect that characterized the US government's response to the survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. "Every bomb dropped in Iraq explodes over the Gulf Coast."

Artists showed up for this action. There was something about it that stimulated that peculiar artistic transparency that allows artists-on-the-ground to become mediums for sign-events, or revelatory characters. Three of them were James Minton, Donna Bassin, and Audrey Mantey.

James is a sound engineer and West Coast filmographer, who made the film "A Mile in Their Shoes."

Donna -- a psychotherapist with a strong interest in post-trauma-- is still working on her heart-breaking and redemptive film, "Leave No Soldier" (earlier title: The Mourning After)

Then there is Audrey Mantey, with whom I have maintained an epistolary ever since. Audrey is a teacher and an artist; but she is something else, too. She is a military veteran; and it was in that role that she came to the Veterans and Survivors March for Peace and Justice. In the course of the friendship we have developed since the march, I have also discovered that Audrey has an extremely agile and penetrating intelligence that is manifest in her words and her art.

Audrey has begun applying her gift for conceptual art to audiovisual media, and the first fruits are confirming her in the vocation of interpreter of sign-events, of revelatory medium. Her first AV was Conquest, which she played with out of our correspondence on the association between colonizing masculinity and the myth of redemptive violence. The second -- just finished -- is "We are Not Special," the sound for it being a song of the same name by VOICE, who performed at the end of the Gulf March in Congo Square, New Orleans.

I post this in case anyone is interested... Audrey is just warming up. As an old friend said once, ex-soldiers are natural political scientists and they make good revolutionaries. Audrey is a revolutionary. Stand by.