Monica Haller. Veterans Book Project (2009–2014)
The Veterans Book Project is a collection of 50 books authored collaboratively by artist Monica Haller and individuals with first-hand experience of war. Many of the authors are veterans of the recent US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some are family members of soldiers, and others are Iraqi or Afghan civilians living in the United States. The books were all made in the United States, where the wars were launched but rarely collectively seen and discussed.
As an artist, Haller created the framework of the project. That is, with a team of collaborators, built bookmaking software and conducted workshops for contributors to create books of their personal experiences with the US-led conflicts. Between 2009 and 2014 Haller facilitated these workshops throughout the US. Each workshop involved transcribers, editors, and on-call therapists supporting the authors whose words fill these volumes. Each book is a “container” slowing down and making physical the vast quantity of ephemeral images that survive as both memories and digital files. These containers deploy volatile images meant to re-articulate and refashion the authors’ experiences. The first audience of each book was determined by its author, most often being their family and friends. By presenting the Veteran Book Project library here as an exhibition, we seek to create a quiet space for contemplation and thoughtful discussion about war and its impact on all of our lives. When our country deploys its military, we are all participants.
Monica Haller holds an MFA in Visual Studies and a BA in Philosophy of Violence and Non-Violence. She is an active artist, writer, and art educator with creative interests in photography, video, and design. Her work includes Riley and his story and the Veterans Book Project. Haller is the recipient of numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship or support from the National Endowment for the Arts.