April 30, 2009 / 12:15 PM / 10 years ago

Pink tanks point gun barrels at West in art work

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - The seven model tanks in an art installation by an Indonesian artist look like the machines the United States used in the invasion of Iraq. Except they are pink, covered in lotuses and have heart-shaped barrels.

But the guns of the “Love Tank” are pointed firmly at the enemy, which for artist S. Teddy D. is the West’s militarism and over consumption. He contrasts that with an idealistic view of the East as an innocent and spiritual haven.

“The West produced colonialism, fascism, capitalism — it’s different from what I know about the East,” said the artist. “The West is exploiting and the East is preserving,” he said, looking up at his installation at the National Museum of Singapore.

The plywood tanks in the pagoda-shaped installation are piled on top of each other, with the first half the size of an Abrams M1A1 tank and the one on top a fifth of the real size. The tanks are perched on a pile of rubble.

“The idea is about war, about love, about peace,” said S. Teddy D. “I’m thinking of the victims of war — I’m afraid for the future of the world,” he said, adding terror attacks and religious wars or “crusades” were his main fears.

The installation took S. Teddy D. and around 70 artists in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta five months to make. It took another three weeks to install.

The artist, whose previous works focused on military themes such as an AK-47 gun twisted into a “circle of life,” said the idea came from a wedding and a visit to Singapore.

He originally made one pink tank as a gift for a friend getting married, together with slogans such as “make love, not war.”

Then he visited Singapore to see the gallery space in the museum that commissioned the work, and noticed many temples of different religions around the multicultural city-state — Hindu, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist.

“I thought about the site and about the spiritual space, and made the decision to make the temple,” the artist said. “The lotus is purifying, the rubble is a symbol of disaster.”

Editing by Sugita Katyal

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