The Firehouse 13 experimental art space in Providence, Rhode Island hosted "One Morning In Haditha," Russ Smith's powerful multi-media anti-war installation piece, from October 5 through October 29, 2007.
"One Morning In Haditha" built upon the success of Smith's previous anti-war installation “Fallujah Blues.” This unique work was shown at several venues in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Bill Van Siclen, art critic for The Providence Journal, described "Fallujah Blues" as powerful and harrowing, while Doug Norris, writing in the August/September 2006 issue of Art New England, praised the work as "a still life of modern war."
"One Morning in Haditha" referenced the November 19, 2005 massacre of twenty-four Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines in the city of Haditha. As a Marine patrol rolled through the streets of Haditha on that day, a roadside bomb exploded beneath the belly of a Humvee. One of the Marines died in the blast. Other members of the convoy then invaded several nearby homes and shot to death unarmed men, women, and children. The dead included an elderly man in a wheelchair.
The ambitious installation art component of “One Morning in Haditha” involved the creation of a war zone within the gallery, using five tons of sand, a military green cargo van, twenty-four white shrouded figures, photographs, and other objects specific to the Haditha massacre. Smith also created several abstract soldier sculptures for the installation, constructed of metal, dirt, and straw. These sculptures were inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s graphic description of American soldiers in his “Civil Disobedience” political essay. Installation images can be viewed at www.russsmith.org/hadithagallery.htm.
The unique performance art component of "One Morning in Haditha" involved fasting, prayer, and meditation throughout the duration of the installation. Smith's endurance art project took the form of a water-only fast during the entire 24-day exhibition period, with each day of the fast linked to a particular Haditha massacre victim. Smith divided his time between the gallery and his regular daily activities, and kept a detailed online diary during his October 6th - October 29th fast. You can read Smith's diary entries at www.russsmith.org/hadithafastdiary.htm.
Smith's "One Morning in Haditha" installation also featured the screening of selected war documentaries as well as the world premiere of "Escher's Puddle," a new play by John Hadden, starring Hadden and Irene Longshore, concerning a son's attempt to come to grips with his father's life in espionage.
The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) awarded Smith a $2000.00 individual artist project grant to help with the installation costs associated with "One Morning In Haditha." Invaluable support was also provided to the artist by Firehouse 13, Anna Shapiro, Nick Bauta, Paul Hubbard, Mary-Ann Greanier, Joan Mann, Rika Smith McNally, and John McNally.