P a u l M. N i c h o l s o n

Untitled Participation Trophies

Untitled Participation Trophies, 2018

49 x 27 x 8" wood, plastic army men, spray paint, cabinet hardware, plexi glass, led light strip

The word trophy is derived from the Greek tropaion, and referred to human captives, body parts, and other
property captured in battle. War trophies in particular commemorate military victories of a state, army, or
individual combatant.

Untitled Participation Trophies looks at the rewards as well as the costs of military service through
memorialized scenes of trauma. Meticulously made trophies have gold toppers that employ variations of the
familiar plastic army men afflicted by a range of lingering battle wounds. The installation probes the failed
promise of national service in a seemingly familiar display setting. Dozens of anti-monuments are tightly
arranged inside a trophy case that would be at home in any VFW or high school corridor. A trophy is a
tangible symbol and reminder of past success, something we invest pride in that reflects one’s valor, but here
it rings hollow. In this very direct work, the viewer is led to consider the domestic costs of war on individuals,
and to our collective psyche.

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