R&R(&R), an ongoing series of works on paper, converts the military abbreviation for “rest and recuperation” to words like “regret and regenerate.” Slavick borrows and builds images from the art and architecture of the invader and the invaded, from the workshops of Persian miniaturist Bihzâd to the court arts of Safavid Iran. Scenes of construction and cultivation are painted over digitally manipulated photographs of devastation across the former Islamic Empire — in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and elsewhere. Altering these images by hand is an attempt at empathic restitution, at recognizing what has been decimated and replacing the anonymous, ashen monochrome of rubble.
Several images focus on vehicles, whether beasts of burden or mechanical transports. Caravans of camels act as benign witnesses while cars, jeeps, tanks and humvees embody the machismo that both feeds and entraps so many abuses of power. Vehicles alternate as favored weapons of suicide bombers as well as targets of insurgents. Slavick addresses the aftermath of those who have chosen violence as a means to an end, questioning our complicity in, as well as our seemingly miraculous recovery from incomprehensible and self-inflicted destruction.