Scare Tactics is an exhibition of scarecrows and talismans of protection for our growing community garden. In August, we put out a call for scarecrows that would have the ability to fend off birds, but more importantly to protect against the much larger and more vicious scavengers that surround us. The selected proposals are by Charbel Samuel Aoun, Raymond Gemayel, Rawad Kanj, Dalin Nakhleh, Assem Naser AlDeen, Christine Safatly, and Christian Sleiman. Their works will be permanently installed in our community garden.
Scarecrows are only effective when animated. Stationary guards that cannot be caught still, they are an exercise in giving life to objects in order to have power over other beings. Whether in their most common form, an anthropomorphic assembly of sticks, hay, and tattered clothes moving in the wind, or in their historical proximity to fertility goddesses and symbols of sacrifice and resurrection, scarecrows are endowed with the power to protect crops from crows, and land from trespassers.
Money too, traces its roots to the entangled practices of sacrifice and fertility, and signs of this genesis linger to this day. It is said for instance that the two lines slashing currency symbols ($,₤,€,¥) are derived from the horns of the sacrificial bull, and that much of the architecture of financial institutions is modeled after the altars of Roman temples. Hence too why finance derives so much of its terminology from agriculture. Growth, cycle, flow…
The predecessors of scarecrows were people sitting in fields, clapping and shouting to scare away unwanted scavengers. Today, scarecrows are replaced by technologies of toxic chemicals, loud sirens, and apparatuses blasting water at potential targets. The evolution of scarecrows, from sacrificial figures embodying local mythologies and superstitious beliefs to technological scare tactics, reflect our treatment of land as a commodity to be constantly extracted, and as private property to be protected from intruders.
Visuals prepared by Nour El Samman in the framework of BAC Graphic-Designer in Residence Program