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Artist critiques
'don't ask' discharges

Artist critiques
'don't ask' discharges

The work of up-and-coming artist Michael Petry, to be featured in a New York gallery, takes an abstract approach to the U.S. antigay "don't ask, don't tell" military policy.

In the installation titled "Monument to an Unknown Soldier: Portrait of an American Patriot," Petry allegedly asked a gay American veteran to provide a sperm sample, which appears to have been splashed on the flag. The stains were then used as a pattern for embroidery to be sewn into the flag.

Petry explained, "The soldier must remain unknown or face expulsion from an Army that was happy to see him serve, and possibly lose his life, yet not love nor make that love known."

The policy, established in 1993, prohibits the military from inquiring about the sex lives of service members but requires the discharge of those who acknowledge being gay.

Another work, "5star," which features five red, white, and blue inconspicuous bowls, actually takes its pattern from the sphincters of gay American porn stars who perform in military-themed films.

"In 2006 real members of the U.S. Army were imprisoned for consensual same-sex love, while soldiers who tortured and murdered Iraqi civilians were merely fined. The work opens itself to the viewer, yet remains five beautiful blossoms unaffected by any histories," said Petry.

Petry lectures part-time at the Royal College of Art in London and is a research fellow at the School of Art and Design at the University of Wolverhampton, England.

The exhibition opens Thursday and runs through February 4 at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery at 547 W. 27th St., New York. (Hassan Mirza, U.K.)

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