katherine butcher

Open Day

In time
not today
today they dance
these young soldiers
when stationed will enact a rehearsed script
in perfect dialect
to command others to:

Come here.
Wait here.
Stay here.

Large scale promotional images of young, bright and beautiful recruits. Still images selected from a filmed Open Day at the US Defence Language Institute. The public promotional youtube video from 2019 where these images originate from has now been deleted from public record. In the original film which you can no longer view online, training soldiers dance on a stage adorned in the traditional dress of their assigned study language, popular culturally significant music tracks blast out across the audience. 

Cultural educational materials equip soldiers with speech that commands, warns and instructs, helpful words, phrases and questions to negotiate interrogations, locations and conduct mine warfare.

Using what Martin Joos (1948) calls ’formal and frozen registers’.
Verbal expressions that are pre-filtered, mediated by consciousness, by wider social structures and by language itself. - Theodor Adorno (1981).

The special formal and frozen registers stand-in for the military body to reveal the way of seeing (Eyes) the use of culture (Soft) to control - through violence - foreign nations (Imperial).

Katherine Butcher © 2021