The work of many hands …


We’ll soon be seeing some travelling posts from Nigel, who’s just started his first overseas trip under the Australian Research Council grant that funds the Rugs of War project.

In the meantime, here are some fascinating images we’ve found through the work of visual artist Christoph Büchel. With Giovanni Carmine, Büchel exhibited an installation titled “PSYOP – Capture their minds and their hearts and souls will follow” at the Sharjah Biennial 7 held in the United Arab Emirates from April – June 2005.

A related artists’ book called PSYOP Post-9/11 Leaflets, edited by Buchel and Carmine was published in 2005 by Win With Words in an edition of 2000, and is still available. It includes a fascinating propaganda leaflet used by the Coalition forces during “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan in 2002. The leaflets were dropped by air. This one is printed in both the Dari and Pashtu languages, and reads as follows:


Front: “Many threads make one rug”


Back: “Together you can make one Afghanistan!”

The same back image was also used with at least two other front images which conveyed a similar intention. Firstly this one, which reads “Brick by brick …”

Brick by brick

And secondly this one. The original text is in Dari and Pashtu, and the reverse again reads “Together you can make one Afghanistan.”

The Taliban is trying to divide you

Büchel has also used war rugs themselves in his installations, in this work from 2005:

Lada and rugs

Fliegender Händler (trans from German: “Flying trader”)
Car (Lada), rugs, speakers, different materials

And most recently at the Reg Vardy Gallery, part of the University of Sunderland in the UK. The following description is from the Gallery’s website:

Opening on May 23 at Reg Vardy Gallery will be a faithful recreation of the Sunderland hotel room Mr. Büchel stayed in during his preparations for the exhibition. Displayed in this room as if by a traveling salesman are imported hand-woven rugs from Afghanistan commemorating the events of September 11, 2001. The woven imagery appropriated into these rugs is derived from leaflets dropped on Afghanistan as part of the coalition forces’ psychological operations of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Mr Büchel is represented by Hauser & Wirth, whose London gallery will show a major exhibition of his work later this year. We thank him for his kind permission to reproduce these images here.

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