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The P Street Fairey

Heading west from the 14th Street corner of P Street, as jarring as a fence or brick wall, you’ll crash into a young Cambodian soldier, a machine gun hanging off his shoulder, a brilliant red flower pinned to his beret. The alley wall ends, but his steadfast gaze does not; and whatever his destination, it seems to lie far beyond the world of Whole Foods shoppers and restaurant patrons that cross his path.

Instinctively, the work represents thoughtful propaganda: a bold color scheme; simple, stylized shapes; and a gash of scarlet that draws the eye along the line of the machine gun…. When for the past decade the American public has consumed a war of desert operations and afghan uniforms, the brooding child fighter surely serves as a loud reminder that our war is not exceptional—others have preceded it, as equally horrendous and powerful in public memory. Titled “Duality of Humanity 2,” it could also mean just that— like his arm that carries a weapon while bearing a peace sign patch, how ironic is it that we fight wars to forge peace.

Or, in another twisted layer of irony, the whole thing could mean nothing at all.
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