The mosaic of war: faces of the fallen, portraits of their leaders

Protester made Bush image from US dead. 'The Independent' has done the same for Tony Blair
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The Independent US

Joe Wezorek's anti-war statement could hardly be more dramatic. Angered by what he considered George Bush's political posturing over Iraq, he created an internet image, entitled "War President", using the faces of the hundreds of US troops who have died there.

Joe Wezorek's anti-war statement could hardly be more dramatic. Angered by what he considered George Bush's political posturing over Iraq, he created an internet image, entitled "War President", using the faces of the hundreds of US troops who have died there.

Posted on his website, American Leftist, Mr Wezorek's image has been seized on by activists who say it symbolises the waste of lives. Linked to numerous other sites, including that of the alternative film maker Michael Moore, the image has become famous across the internet, and people are now asking for a poster of the montage to be produced.

"It was just anger, basically," Mr Wezorek, 30, a computer software designer, said yesterday from Pittsburgh. "I have really been struck by the coverage of the war in the American mainstream media. I did not live through Vietnam, but I understand there were lots of images of body-bags coming home. In America now, we see no such images."

On his website, he writes: "War President is meant to be a satirical commentary, [which is] informed by the whole project of using the dead as political props. I'm not making a dime off the image, and never will attempt to do so.

"Given this lack of financial or other crass motives, other recent instances of the politicisation of the dead strike me as more morally questionable: the coffins of the victims of 9/11 showing up in a political advertisement, the continued suppression of images of the funerals of those lost in Iraq from the mainstream American media, and images of the 9/11 disaster in a campaign ad. A certain party stands to benefit greatly from all three of those instances of politicisation."

More than 680 American troops have been killed in Iraq. Mr Bush declared last week: "We won't waver."

Mr Wezorek created the image using 609 individual photographs of the dead soldiers, some of them several times, taken from The Washington Post newspaper website using software called Mosaic Creator.

Taking Mr Wezorek's lead, The Independent's picture-scanning department created a similar image of Tony Blair using photographs of 55 of the 59 British troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the war in March last year.

Most reaction to the President's image, posted on Mr Wezorek's website, has been positive, but some have accused him of exploiting the dead. One correspondent, Jeff Shapleton, said: "Wow, that's something straight from Goebbels's playbook. I guess that's the difference between the Left and Right. The Right mourns and honours those who fall in service while the Left seeks political advantage off of American dead."

Mr Wezorek, who uses the moniker Joe Leftist, says he has been contacted by several relatives of the dead soldiers who had been supportive of the work. Rosemarie Slavenas, from Illinois, whose son, Brian, was killed in Iraq last year while serving with the National Guard, said "if my son's picture is in it, then good. I hold Mr Bush accountable for his death."

To see Mr Wezorek's image of President Bush visit: www.amleft.blogspot.com

ART MADE FROM MULTIPLE IMAGES

Myra Hindley by Marcus Harvey

The portrait of the Moors murderer Myra Hindley was created from thousand of handprints from two small children, and caused widespread controversy when it went on display at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 1997. The artist, Leeds-born Marcus Harvey, used the handprints to form an 11ft by 9ft reproduction of the standard photograph of the Moors murderess called "Myra". Four members of the Royal Academy, which had borrowed it from Charles Saatchi, resigned in disgust and the picture was housed behind glass after being pelted with eggs.

Marilyn Monroe, by Ray Beldner

This portrait of Monroe, displayed at an art exhibition in San Francisco last year, is made up of dollar bills. The creator, Ray Beldner, from Oakland California, said he was continuing the tradition of artists borrowing from popular culture, encouraging audiences to take an alternative view of the world. Also included in his most recent exhibition, Show Me the Money: The Dollar as Art, is a portrait of Chairman Mao, based on an original by Andy Warhol.

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