CSPG’s Poster of the Week is not in our archive, but belongs to the world. It is part of a growing international movement to stop drone attacks which are inflicting huge civilian casualties. The giant 100-by-70 feet vinyl poster features a child whose parents and two young siblings were killed in a 2009 drone strike in Pakistan. The installation was also designed to be captured by satellites in order to make it a permanent part of the landscape on online mapping sites.
The project is called “Not a Bug Splat.” In military slang, Predator drone operators often refer to kills as ‘bug splats’, since viewing a body through a grainy video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed. To challenge this insensitivity as well as raise awareness of civilian casualties, a collaboration of artists comprised of Pakistanis, Americans and the French street artist JR., installed this massive portrait facing up in the heavily bombed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa region of Pakistan, where drone attacks regularly occur. Now, when viewed by a drone camera, what an operator sees on his screen is not an anonymous dot on the landscape, but an innocent child victim’s face.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a U.K.-based non-profit, estimates that in the first 5 years of President Obama’s drone program, in Pakistan alone, between 416-951 civilians have been killed, including 168-200 children.
Reprieve/Foundation for Fundamental Rights helped launch the effort which has been released with the hashtag #NotABugSplat. "We don't know if it is still there or not," one of the artists wrote in an email. The villagers were encouraged to "use the fabric for roofing and other useful purposes. The art was always meant to be utilized and not discarded after it was photographed."