Heroes of War, 2005
After more than a year working with war veterans, Gonzalo Lebrija developed Heroes of War, an artistic intervention in the Veterans Museum’s library in San Diego. Lebrija originally intended to intervene in the museum’s “official” historical narratives by co-creating an alternative curatorial vision that would incorporate the lived experiences of a group of veterans residing at the Veterans Home of California-Chula Vista. During his research process, however, Lebrija participated in the periodic meetings of former prisoners of war. This experience opened up another field of interest: military paraphernalia and veterans’ testimonies. Lebrija decided to film a series of POWs talking about their role in successive wars, as well as the public recognition of their service. Lebrija combined these interviews with sculptural elements that he modeled after the geometric configurations of military service ribbons to create a video installation that proposed an alternative pathway through the dusty bookshelves of military history. Heroes of War was an intervention that activated a space between formal military rhetoric and the complex lived reality of witnesses of war.