In Australia, national memory has been powerfully influenced by the militarisation of history through the construction of war memorials and annual commemoration of Anzac and Remembrance days. (Marilyn Lake)
Contemporary museology – must address current multiple viewpoints but also meet the varying demands of: governing boards, governments, curators, commercial investors, and diverse visitor groups – locals, tourists and school children. (Dawn Casey)
This effective yet problematic account of the Holocaust also admitted to one of the contentions of the museum to ‘…cover all human life – heroes and villains and the millions who are neither.’ (Robert Crawford)
One of the most remarkable images in recent times was the footage of people falling to their deaths from the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. This event creates the political context for the moment in which we now live – a world in which terrorism exists on a global level. The ‘war on terrorism’ is currently represented widely in museums throughout the world. My concern is whether the kind of representation we now see in these museums will exist in 50 years’ time, and if it does, will it be contextualized in the same way? We are even able to witness changes in the recent past in the way 9/11 has been represented. The footage of falling people was banned from public view some time ago on account of the strong response it elicited from television viewers in the immediate aftermath of the event itself. The representations of 9/11 we now encounter are rather of the kind I saw in a recent trip to the UK where 9/11 is used in a corner of the gallery merely to emphasize a strategy of vigilance against terrorists.
Figure.1: Kate McCulloch (photographer,) ‘Be Alert- terrorism’ sign,
Imperial War Museum, London, 2005.
How do curators, and the political environment that influences their choices, represent the Vietnam War? A familiar image of this War is the photograph taken by Nguyen Kong (Nick) Ut showing a young girl running naked down the road covered with napalm. It is an image that mobilized a mass reaction against the war. Yet displays of the Vietnam War need to be mindful to contextualize such an image. If they do not, it is possible that this image will lose its meaning and this photograph will become merely another image that contributes to the general sense of horror about war.
In the Imperial War Museum, London, video footage of the girl running down the road covered in napalm is shown on a small screen following footage of anti-war protests that took place in America during the Vietnam War. The background music features Jimi Hendrix playing the American Anthem – an ironic commentary of the War, perhaps, given that America’s role in Vietnam was questioned and, indeed, that the United States ultimately ‘lost’ the war.
Duncan F. Cameron notes that: ‘[T]he museum must build the collections that will tell us tomorrow who we are and how we got there. After all, that’s ‘what museums are all about’ (Cameron 1971 in Anderson 2004: 72-3). This comment reminds us that unless one lived through a particular era there is not enough information available to explain, in the case of the Vietnam War, the background to the mass protests that took place or the effects of chemical warfare on the Vietnamese landscape and the Vietnamese people. In the Imperial War Museum there are certainly posters describing the political situation in Vietnam prior to the war and the way veterans were treated when they returned from the war. Nevertheless, a complete coverage of the relevant political issues is not given. Perhaps, the lack of information highlights the debate within museums concerning the advantages of being generalist or specialized (Low 1942 in Anderson 2004: 39). This ongoing debate may also help explain why only limited space is given to the visual representation of wars in museums.
This paper will look at ways in which museums represent wars. I also consider the extent to which representations of war in these museums are less concerned with truth than with the myths about war, the political circumstances accompanying war and with aesthetic questions relating to the representation of war. I will focus on the Vietnam War in the Imperial War Museum, (London, UK), The Imperial War Museum North (Manchester, UK) and the Australian National War Museum (Canberra, Australia) as well as the Vietnam Veterans Museum in Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia). I ask the question whether the use of space by curators, designers and politicians is driven primarily by a need to tell a story accurately.
Following arguments presented by Jacques Derrida in his article ‘History of the Lie’, I will also consider the broader philosophical context that indicates how these lies come about. In particular, I am interested in Hannah Arendt’s response to a journalist’s polemic, also discussed by Derrida, that had followed the publication of Eichmann in Jerusalem. Arendt recognizes that lies have always been regarded as necessary and justifiable tools not only of the politician’s or the demagogue’s but also the statesman’s trade. Arendt explores what she terms the ‘modern lie’ which she conceives as the modern re-writing of history. Derrida’s excerpt from Arendt warrants quoting here:
We must now turn our attention to the relatively recent phenomenon of mass manipulation of fact and opinion as it has become evident in the re-writing of history, in image-making, and in actual government policy. The traditional political lie, so prominent in the history of diplomacy and statecraft, used to concern either true secrets – data that had never been made public – or intentions, which anyhow do not possess the same degree of reliability or accomplished facts […]. In contrast, the modern political lies deal efficiently with things that are not secrets but are known to practically everybody. This is obvious in the case of rewriting contemporary history under the eyes of those who witnessed it, but it is equally true in image-making of all sorts […] for an image, unlike an old-fashioned portrait, is supposed not to flatter reality but to offer a full-fledged substitute for it. And this substitute, because of modern techniques and the mass media, is, of course, much more in the public eye than the original ever was. (Arendt: ‘Truth and Politics’, quoted in Derrida ‘History of the Lie’ 2001: 72-73)
Arendt is concerned with the destruction of reality or the original archive, and it is this concern that also informs this paper. Museums in their representation of war indulge in deceit if archives that should be on display are not. The problem of deciding which archives help provide an accurate picture and which ones do not, of course, will always be open to question. Nevertheless, vigilance is necessary if one is to avoid erasing history.
In ‘The Museum in Transition: A philosophical perspective’, H.S Hein states that ‘what is observed in the museum today is no longer unequivocally an object; objects have been reconstituted as sites of experience, and museums increasingly hold themselves accountable for delivering experiences’ (Hein 2000: 5). In looking at the concept of ‘space’ in museums, whether it be a literal or metaphoric idea of space, one is aware on a certain level that the ‘objects’ displayed are constructions. These constructions represent a response to highly sensitive issues with regard to the representation of death, atrocities and pain (there are aspects of war that cannot be glorified or rationalized). The curators of war museums have a responsibility to contextualize the political and historical relevance for the inclusion of objects in displays (Gurian in Anderson 2004: 275). It is necessary to keep asking whether curators in their representations of the past re-write and correct it and/or misrepresent it. I acknowledge that the exclusions of material in displays are about erasure rather than the repression of information. As novelist Murakami might say, rather than memory having being lost there is a ‘lack of memory’ present in relation to certain questions. Let me quote from Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore to illustrate how history might erase itself, lose its archives or simply not represent the stories because it is politically difficult to do so. A scene in the novel relates how children are poisoned by mushrooms while on an excursion:
[T]he two-hour span during which the children had been unconscious in the hills was erased from their memory…Rather than memory loss, it was more a lack of memory…I suppose it’s like – well, imagine a train steaming down a track. The freight’s disappeared from one of the cars. A car that’s empty inside – that’s loss. When the whole car itself has vanished, that’s lack….1 boy in a coma as a result – woke up – he returned to this world with his mind wiped clean. The proverbial blank slate. (Murakami 2005: 70)
After visiting several war museums in Australia and the UK, I have become accustomed to seeing displays that celebrate war most often in the form of large vehicles or mannequins dressed as soldiers bearing medals and guns. The following image shows The Vietnam War display in the Imperial War Museum, London.
Figures.2: Kate McCulloch (photographer), Vietnam War Display,
Imperial War Museum, London, 2005.
In the Imperial War Museum North (Manchester), war is represented in a very general sense. For example, every thirty minutes film footage called ‘The Big Picture’ is projected on the walls of the under a rubric such as: ‘why war?’
[Figure 3: Image forthcoming, pending copyright permission]
However the curators of this footage are dictated by a need to provide a general representation of war rather than providing any specific political context. Spatially the use of wheat silo-type structures – each dedicated to a particular theme of war, for example. Woman and war, technology and war were successful as aesthetic constructions.
Many agree that the architecture of the building has ‘overwhelmed the experience’ (Greenberg 2005: 232) of what is within the building; nevertheless the interlocking shards of the building designed by Daniel Libeskind to represent the world shattered by conflict is extremely effective.
Figure.4: Kate McCulloch (photographer), Exterior of the Imperial War
Museum North, Manchester, 2005
The rhizomic use of space in this museum was seductive; you could choose to enter the narrative at your chosen historical moment or you could explore the material within a chronological order.
Figure.5: Kate McCulloch (photographer), ‘Timeline’, Imperial War
Museum North, Manchester, 2005
The narrative within, however, is generalized and I was somewhat perturbed at the miniscule representation The Vietnam War. This is probably due to a more comprehensive coverage in the Imperial War Museum in London – though the reliance on mannequins holding guns, looking proud and patriotic and photos of soldiers helping each other, when injured, predominate.
Figure.6: Kate McCulloch (photographer), Vietnam War display,
Imperial War Museum, Manchester, 2005.
Three images remain memorable from my visits to the IWM in London. One that celebrated war – The Entrance of the Imperial War Museum:
Figure.7: Entrance to the Imperial War Museum, Manchester, 2005.
Another that represented democracy as devoid of fault in comparison to totalitarian regimes – The Holocaust Exhibition in the Imperial War Museum:
Figure 8: See http://london.iwm.org.uk/server/show/nav.00b005
The third image is a sanitized detached representation of children’s experience of the Blitz during the Second World War in the ‘Children’s War Exhibition: The Second World War through the Eyes of the Children of Britain’. This exhibition was spatially constructed to resemble the type of living conditions children found themselves in during the Blitz. Although there was coverage of such events as air raids and propaganda posters of children wearing gas masks, more attention was given to the everyday lives of children. For example what toys they played with, what food they ate. The curators of this exhibition did not embrace the extent to which children would have been traumatized as a result of separation from their families and in cases where they witnessed acts of violence. The book accompanying the exhibition by Juliet Gardiner is somewhat more informative and illustrates a more realistic portrayal of ‘The Blitz’: through the Eyes of Children’.
Figure 9: See http://london.iwm.org.uk/server/show/conEvent.381
Given the large number of museums I visited in the UK, I began to work out that is was the displays that appealed to the emotions that were the most powerful and memorable. On the other hand, appealing to visitors on a purely emotional level can leave no room for critical insight, as for example in the Holocaust exhibition. There seems to be a general problem with museums’ need to ‘deliver experiences’, yet also contextualize displays beyond simple labels. The problem lies in the ongoing debate of whether, in Duncan Cameron’s words, ‘museums [are] to be places for reverence and worship of the object or places where the public gathers to debate…’ (Cameron in Anderson 2004: 11).
Returning to the Imperial War Museum. The entrance hall: planes suspended in mid air as if in flight, canons turned upwards as if ready to fire and tanks had a formidable presence as vehicles of mass destruction. I was given the impression of a cluttered battlefield where action was about to take place, a sense of excitement in the air (anticipation). Yet, the glossy paint of the vehicles strategically placed as if they were props on stage and the absence of military figures reminded me that I was standing in a museum – a constructed environment in which victories of the British in war were to be celebrated rather than discoursed about.
The Imperial War Museum’s original intention was to represent British National memory that was built on ‘military might’ (Lawson: 175).
Figure 10: Kate McCulloch (photographer) Exterior of the Imperial War
Museum, London, 2005.
With the exception of the Holocaust display at the IWM, the closest I have come to encountering the a dynamic narrative related to war is a display of the ballot balls that were used as a form of conscription during the Vietnam war.
Figure.11: Vietnam Conscription Balls, Vietnam Veteran’s Museum,
San Remo, Philip Island, Victoria, 2006.
See www.vietnamvetmuseum.org (accessed 5 October 2005)
Although at first seemingly unimportant, these balls symbolize men who fought in Vietnam, some of whom never returned. Each ball is numbered with the date of the month. If your birth date was drawn, you were male, 18+ and eligible to fight, you were sent off to war and possible death. The story of these balls is what ignites interest. On display at the Vietnam Veterans’ Museum in Philip Island, they are not displayed with the barrel in which the balls were spun. The barrel is currently housed at the National Library in Canberra. There is an ongoing dispute about who should have rights to both the barrel and the conscription balls. The Australian War Memorial is the main contender, however, the Vietnam Veterans who run the museum in Philip Island are not willing to part with the conscription balls that, somewhat improbably, were obtained at a garage sale for only a few dollars. The separation of the balls from its barrel and the quarrel over which museum should own and display both indicates a continuing high level of tension and emotion concerning the soldiers conscripted for war, governments that prefer to give as little attention as possible to a war that was lost and, latterly, Vietnam War veterans who went willingly to war and who have never forgiven or forgotten the way they were treated when the war became both unpopular and un-winnable.
The narrative of the conscription balls and barrel is one that opens up a discussion of the gaps in narrative that are present in the war museums I have visited in Australia and the UK. In Kafka on the Shore Murakami refers to these gaps as a lack of memory rather than a loss of memory (Murakami 2005: 66-70). Collective memory of war is shaped by the curators of museums who are compelled to follow prevailing political thinking about war. Perhaps a lack of memory is forged once the general public becomes accustomed to certain clichéd representations of events. For example, the photograph of the Vietnamese girl running down the road covered in napalm, mentioned earlier, seems to be in imminent danger of becoming a clichéd visual representation of the Vietnam War. It is displayed in the Imperial War Museum in London without a context in which younger visitors to the museum might appreciate its actual significance. Of course the image is horrific, but it does not leave one speechless; it does not render a ‘sublime’ image (cf. other research I have undertaken that does achieve this effect: McCulloch 2003: 48).
It seems that the only displays that represent unmitigated horror are Holocaust exhibitions. I refer specifically to the one in the Imperial War Museum.
Stephen Greenberg describes the use of black and white visual language of spaces or displays in this exhibition as having the effect like the blood and darkness in a Shakespearean play such as Macbeth (Macleod 2005: 230). Tom Lawson’s review of the exhibition criticizes the fact that only the victim is being identified with. He writes:
By animating the victims of the holocaust the visitor is implicitly asked to identify with those victims. The perpetrators remain comfortingly alien, but if they had been shown to have existed outside the SS and independent of an ideological mania, not to mention the huge numbers of them not members of the SS, then perhaps the visitor would have been confronted with the much more challenging reality – that it is possible to identify with a killer too. (Lawson: 179)
This is not to argue for a position where victims are portrayed with any less compassion, but rather for a position where a complete historical context is made available. Showing the ‘killer’ in other contexts is not to condone killing and death in any way, but merely to attempt to make sense of how these atrocities came about in the first place – the political and historical context for the Holocaust is a necessary part of that narrative.
Lawson argues that the rationale of the exhibition is not given to tell the whole story that would in turn encourage reflection. Instead, the Holocaust is awarded ‘a redemptive role for British and Western culture and history; after all Nazism was defeated by the allies – something visitors are reminded of simply through the context of the Imperial War Museum itself’ (Lawson: 182). This argument is enacted spatially within the museum:
When one looks upwards in the entrance hall one is presented with a perfectly symmetrical image, as two fighter planes hung from the ceiling appear to be emerging from the doors of the Holocaust Exhibition itself. The connection between the atrium filled with military hardware and the Holocaust gallery is confirmed when one arrives at the entrance of the exhibition, where one finds seats facing away from the exhibition and looking out across the monuments to British military might. (Lawson: 183)
Construction of spaces can create a narrative that has more impact than the image and the word.
The Australian War Memorial, in the light of debates in relation to how past wars should be remembered is currently redeveloping the post 1945 galleries to be renamed: ‘The Post 1945 Conflict Galleries’.
Figures 12 and 13: See http://www.awm.gov.au
The need for change has been looming since a survey in 1993 revealed that more than 50% of the visitors had no personal or direct family involvement in war (AWM, Masterplan: 24). The memorial was forced to acknowledge that given that prior knowledge of Australian military history could no longer be presumed, as it was when it first opened shortly after the First World War, major changes had to be implemented in order to satisfy its visitors and keep its high profile. Assuming its original role to commemorate Australians who have died in war (AWM, Masterplan: 23), it will extend this role to include a focus on the effects of war on families and individuals and communities. It will also strive to contextualize Australia as only having entered war as a junior ally. The causes and reason for Australia’s involvement will be explored. (AWM, Masterplan: 30). The gallery master-plan discusses such changes also including the spatial layout of the galleries – should the galleries be laid out thematically or chronologically or be a blend of both? The first galleries in the Australian War Memorial were laid out chronologically. It is perhaps more fashionable now to represent history ‘rhizomically’, thematically, and as events that were not only the results of identifiable causes but were also constructed and destined to create affects from that construction. Linear explanations along a logo-centric chronologically based spectrum are no longer considered to be the only or even the most appropriate way, to represent the machinations and complexities of wars.
According to one of the curators of the Post 1945 galleries I interviewed, the final product will look nothing like the original plans. The budget will be a major determinant of the outcome but the process itself will involve decisions being made by curators, planners, designers, financiers, historians, politicians and interested members of the community at large.
The Vietnam War will be of major interest. The earlier representations were static ones.
Figure.14: Old Vietnam Gallery.
The Australian War Memorial has previously paid more attention to maintaining the First and Second World War displays and less time updating minor wars such as the post 1945 conflicts.
In Here Is There Spirit, historian Michael McKernan discusses the need for extensions to the War Memorial in 1966, stating: ‘If there were good political reasons in 1966 to extend the Memorial there were even stronger reasons in late 1967 as the unpopularity of the Vietnam War increased’ (McKernan 1991: 31). However, even when the extensions were made in the following year to allow the War Memorial room and scope for the growing collections of relics and paintings from the Vietnam War, it took a few more years for there to be a Vietnam War display.
According to Peter Bernice, who worked in the war memorial in the 1970s, the first temporary Vietnam War exhibition in the early 1970s was closed down due to the objection of the Canberra Times news reporter Jim Cain to the portrayal of Viet Cong soldiers as aggressive (Interview, 2005). It appears that the Vietnam War display has been a problematic one from the beginning. Curators at the Vietnam Veteran Museum in Philip Island in Victoria inform me that at the time when the Australian War Memorial had the option to house other important Vietnam War memorabilia from veterans it declined these artefacts (Interview, 2005). The Memorial must now regret this decision given the topical focus on Australia and Asia in the updated version of the Post 1945 display (Masterplan: 30). The Vietnam Veteran Museum now houses these items and as a result has an extensive collection of important Vietnam War memorabilia. Given the numbers of relics and paintings the Memorial already had they simply may not have had room for any more objects.
Reviewing the early plans for the updated post 1945 section in the War Memorial, I am not persuaded that the images will go beyond representing the war in terms of helicopters, tanks and bombs. Will the new displays present the impact of Agent Orange, the illnesses and depressions experienced by returned soldiers, the part played by women in the war and the fact of the political turmoil that existed in Australia at the time? Will the huge demonstrations against the war be represented? If so will the whole story be told? The Masterplan for the Post 1945 Displays indicates a need to cover the social, economic and political events leading up to wars and the aftermath, as well as the impacts of war on Australian society during a conflict (Masterplan: 27). Given this move away from focus on military operations during wartime, such issues as the impact of Agent Orange on veterans will be acknowledged. There is no coverage of the effects of Agent Orange in the present display.
It does, however, seem that most money will be spent on the helicopter (UH-1B) as it is an eye-catcher. Of course the helicopter is an icon of the Vietnam War for several reasons such as solving ‘the problems of countering insurgency it appeared to transform the guerilla equation, eradicating at a stroke previously intractable problems of ambush, manpower and time’ (Spark in Walsh & Aulich 1989: 88). However, the focus on the helicopter draws more attention to the military tactics in the Vietnam War than embracing political, social and economic ramifications of the war as the Masterplan recognizes as a priority in the new galleries.
The helicopter became the American touchstone, symbolizing a transcendent American power incarnate in metal – the Vietcong were aware of it, and awarded high honours to soldiers who downed ships. (Spark in Walsh & Aulich 1989: 89)
For American soldiers, the fundamental authority of the helicopter lay precisely in the disturbing power to insert them into and extract them from the war. (Spark: 92).
Figure 15: See http://www.awm.gov.au
This painting by Ken Mc Fadyen titled Insertion, 1968, is representative of the preferred kind of painting used in war museums.
Figure 16: See http://www.awm.gov.au/database/collection.asp
There is no attempt to choose art that might be considered metaphoric. The works are realist and fail to engage with contemporary art practices. Art historian Bettie Churcher describes McFadyen’s work as underlining ‘the fact that some things are better left to the cine-camera’ (Churcher 2004: 145). In other words television and film footage of the Vietnam War had more impact than the realist paintings by the two official war artists of this period Ken McFadyen and Bruce Fletcher. Perhaps the fact that the Vietnam War was the first televised war lessened their impact, however, by the mid 1960s, American abstract art had entered the modern art scene in Australia (Churcher 2004: 146). The decision to appoint war artists working in a realist style was a considered one and still prevails today as the most common art form in war museums.
There have, however, been publications of art works responding to The Vietnam War that perhaps should find a home in this museum. For example ‘The Vietnam Voices Exhibition’ which took place at The Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, NSW in 2001-2003.This exhibition attempted to represent all sides of the conflict. Artists were selected from Australian and Vietnamese service and non-service veterans, members of their families and artists who were against the war. Examples of the types of art exhibited are as follows:
Figure 17: Elizabeth Burton, Rape, 1998.
‘Rape’ is an autobiographical account of Elizabeth Burton’s own rape by six Americans in Saigon during the war where she worked as a go-go girl. Elizabeth recalls being advised to stay quiet about the event as it could be made out to be her fault given the nature of her work as a performer (Siobhan 2005: 89-90).
The image depicts a naked female in white lying with her legs and arms open against a bright pink backdrop. Six male figures point machine guns at her head, a German Luger in her mouth and phallic symbols at her from every angle representing the gang rape. Her facial expression is one of agony – indicated by a black hole for her mouth and shades of black dots for her eyes and nose. You can only see the facial expression of one male raping her – a bright orange face with a black hole for a mouth. He is the figure that points the German Luger in her mouth. The other men are in shades of green; they are black as faceless perpetrators.
Figure 18: John Whittington, Preparation for Dawn Service, 1997.
This depicts a Vietnam veteran preparing for dawn service. He sits in his bedroom with his pants rolled down to his ankles attaching his artificial legs. One leg is falling away from his body which could be read as a metaphor for his lack of control over his predicament post war. However, his jacket bearing medals is laid out respectfully on the end of the bed suggesting that he still accepts the honour of having fought for his country despite the loss of his limbs. His face bears no distinguishable features, especially given the shaded-in glasses he wears. He may stand for all those anonymous Vietnam veterans who suffer physical and psychological pain as a result of The Vietnam War.
Figure 19: Lisa Young, My Father’s Head is an Egg, 1999 (detail – one of
Lisa Young’s painting ‘My Father’s head is an egg’,is a photograph of a broken egg in a pool of liquid against a white back drop symbolizing Young’s father’s condition when returning from the war in Vietnam. It represents the impact of chemical warfare, for example Agent Orange on soldiers in years to come. Young describes her painting: ‘As in cold war ‘B’ genre novel, Agent Orange (an invisible modern weapon perpetrated by the side he fought for) infiltrated [my father’s] brain, literally creating black holes. Ray treatment left him hairless, making clear the surgical marks made by the openings as in an egg tapped and flipped back’ (Young in Lucas & Gouriotis 2000: 38).
Figure 20: Arthur Boyd, Nebuchadnezzar, 1969.
Arthur Boyd’s painting ‘Nebuchadnezzar in a fire’, 1969 is described by Joanna Mendelssohn as follows:
According to the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, oppressor of the Jews, boasted of his power and his glory. As a punishment for his hubris, God struck him down and he “was driven from the men and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds claws.” Boyd draws a parallel between the vanity of the Biblical king and the hubris of the USA as it scourged the people of Vietnam. The moral certainty of the flaming bodies for the priests reminded Boyd of the righteous Jew in Babylon’s fiery furnace…the message is bleak. Pride comes before a fall, and the most powerful empire is humbled by the apparent weak. (Mendelssohn in Lucas & Gouritis 2000: 30)
It perhaps should be emphasized that these extraordinary representations of war are not part of permanent displays and that there is a severe lack of this kind of art in the Australian War Memorial. Nevertheless, despite an inability to engage with contemporary art, the Australian War Memorial is recognized internationally as one of the best war museums in the world and in Australia as assuming the role of helping ‘Australians to remember, interpret and understand the Australian experience of war and it’s enduring impact on Australia’ (AWM, MasterPlan: 25).
The Vietnam Veteran’s Museum
Co-operation needs to occur between curators of the Vietnam Veterans’ Museum in Phillip Island and curators of the Australian War Memorial. Both memorials have a particular slant; each involves erasing memory and neither in my view achieves a full picture of the complexity of this war. The reasons are personal, political and financial. The reasons form the kind of story that needs to be told.
I return to Derrida’s article ‘The History of the Lie’ where he explores the ways in which there has been a need to sustain lies in the construction of the past. Is it intentional? Is there a political need to deceive? In leaving out the full story of any war are we engaging with a lie? Future research in this area inevitably involves visiting Vietnam and attempting to come to terms with the narrative provided.
It seems appropriate to end with an image – a cartoon created in the 1960s during the Vietnam War. The irony the cartoon evokes is directed at the kinds of false logic that characterizes the complex political environment of war.
[Figure 21: Image forthcoming, pending copyright permission]
This cartoon by Abu In appeared in the Tribune in London in the 1960s. It depicts a plane dropping bombs over a Vietnamese village with a caption coming from the plane reading: ‘I’m sure it’s a hostile village captain – because we bombed it last week’ (Cameron 1968: 95).
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Adam Lucas & Con Gouriotus (eds.) (2000). Vietnam Voices: Australians and the Vietnam War (NSW: Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre).
Tom Lawson (2003). ‘Ideology in a Museum of Memory: A Review of the Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum,’ in Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions (London: Frank Cass). Vol.4, Autumn, 173-183.
Suzanne Macleod (2005). Reshaping Museum Space: Architecture, Design, Exhibitions. (New York: Routledge).
James Mayo (1998). War Memorials as Political Landscape: The American Experience and Beyond (New York: Praeger).
Jock McCulloch (1984). The Politics of Agent Orange: The Australian Experience(Melbourne: Heinemann).
Kate McCulloch (2003). Photographs of War. Revolution and Terrorism: Frozen in Time, Thawed by Exposure (University of Melbourne, Unpublished Honours Thesis).
Siobhan McHugh (2005). Minefields and Miniskirts: Australian Women and the Vietnam War (Melbourne: Lothian Books).
Michael McKernan (1991). Here is Their Spirit: A History of the Australian War Memorial 1917-1990 (Queensland: Australian War Memorial).
Kit Messham-Muir (Nov. 2005). ‘Affect, Interpretation& Technology’. Open Museum Journal.
Haruki Murakami (2005). Kafka on the Shore (London: Harvill Press).
Steve. G. Paulsson (2000). The Holocaust: The Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum (London: Imperial War Museum).
Peter Pierce, Jeffrey Grey & Jeff Doyle (eds.) (1991). Vietnam Days: Australia and the Impact of Vietnam (Melbourne: Penguin Books).
Jacques Derrida (2001). ‘History of the Lie: Prolegomena’ in Richard Rand (ed.) Cultural Memory in the Present (Stanford California: Stanford University Press).
Geoffrey Robertson QC (2002). Crimes against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice (New York: Penguin Books).
Maria Tumarkin (2005). Traumascapes (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press).
Nguyen Van Canh (1983). Vietnam under Communism 1975-1982 (California: Hoover Institution Press).
Nancy Viviana (1996). The Indochinese in Australia 1975-1995: From Boats to Barbeques (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Jeffrey Walsh & James Aulich (eds.) (1989). Vietnam Images: War and Representation(London: Macmillan Press).
- ‘Be Alert – terrorism’ Sign, Imperial War Museum, London, 2005.
- Soldier mannequin, Vietnam War display, Imperial War Museum, London, 2005
- ‘The Big Picture’, Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, 2005.
- Exterior of the Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, 2005.
- ‘Timeline’, Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, 2005.
- Vietnam War display, Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, 2005.
- Entrance Hall, Imperial War Museum, London, 2005.
- Holocaust Exhibition, Imperial War Museum, London, 2005
- Children’s War Exhibition: The Second World War Through the Eyes of the Children of Britain’, Imperial War Museum, London, 2005.
- Exterior of the Imperial War Museum, London, 2005.
- Vietnam War Conscription Balls, Vietnam Veteran’s Museum, San Remo, Phillip Island, Victoria, 2006.
- Exterior of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT, 2006
- Post 1945 Display Redevelopments Poster, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT, 2006.
- Vietnam War Display, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT, 2006
- Poster of Helicopter display for Post 1945 Vietnam war Display, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT, 2006
- Ken McFadyen, Insertion, 1968.
- Elizabeth Burton, Rape, 1998.
- John Whittington, Preparation for Dawn Service, 1997.
- Lisa Young, My Father’s Head is an Egg, 1999 (detail – one of three).
- Arthur Boyd, Nebuchadnezzar, 1969.
- Abu in Tribune, London, 1960’s.