These are drawings of soldiers from World War One who had extensive damage done to their faces by shrapnel. The devastation of the war paradoxically allowed medical advances to grow and save lives, and men like these who had received critical injuries were more likely to recover from their injuries, although often their faces and bodies were irrevocably altered.
Whenever I try to explain this project to people, I get asked, why even look at these terrifying pictures of these torn-up soldiers that fought almost a hundred years ago?
One of the most important narratives they miss in history textbooks is the personal one; the thoughts and actions of the individual caught up in events determined by nations. To me, that’s why it’s so sad, and simplistic, to personify entire countries and say “we won the war - we beat you” like we were the ones fighting.
So I feel like almost the least I can do is look at these pictures and draw them, because they were real men, and their faces were really like this, and the discomfort I feel looking at pictures of them a hundred years later doesn’t really matter; it’s important to me to realize this is what we talk about what people say “we won the war”.