Propaganda figures, tombstone-blackboard, flag, poster, restaurant furniture, photographs, working Coca-Cola machine, stuffed dog, wood, metal, fiberglass etc.

“The Portable War memorial” seems best explained by quoting from a letter (written by Kienhoiz in response to a critic) which appeared in Artforum, summer 1969.

“ (...) I would first of all never insult this country (America) as I love it perhaps even as well as you. I would, however, in my may presume to change it. My method, as is the method of most artists, is a system of focus and point of view. Now, to the actual piece which reads as a book from left to right. On the left side are the propaganda devices. Uncle Sam of the First World War, Kate Smith singing ‘God Bless America’, the Marines on Mount Suribachi. (...) The Marines stand in front of a blackboard tombstone that contains some 475 chalk written names of independent countries that have existed here on earth but are no longer. Places such as Akkad. Now, I don’t know where Akkad was probably you don't, but somebody once said to somebody else: ‘You stay the hell off Akkad or l'll get a gun/spear/rock/club and I'll do you in’. The earth has always been pretty much the size it is now, but the boundaries that men place on it do change at great human cost, with questionable justification. The next section is ‘business as usual’, with tables ta sit at and real Cokes to be bought from a real Coke dispenser. The clock is set at the current time and all is quite pleasant until you notice that the last tombstone which represents the future (and is necessarily blank) has a very small human man form crucified to it. His relationship is perhaps 2 inches to 9 feet. Upon closer investigation, hopefully with Coke in hand, the viewer notices that the figure has burned hands indicating mankind’s nuclear predictability and responsibility. One last point, the tombstone of names has an inverted cross which says: ‘A Portable War Memorial Commemorating V - (here is a small blackboard square) - Day 19’ - (here is another small blackboard square). This permits updating with the piece of chalk that is provided. The sculpture could be assembled, for instance, in Montreal with a ‘C’ in the first square and the appropriate date in the second commemorating V. C. Day (Victory in Canada), if we ever get into a serious conflict with our good neighbors to the North. I think the fighting instinct is natural and even necessary, but I want to see it propagandized and channeled by thinking, responsible leadership. The wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world can never win in a one for one confrontation. (“Of course they won, they were the biggest.”) Our moral/ethical posture is not so shining that we should weight other cultures with it. We should, perhaps, as a nation and as individuals, understand ourselves and our influences to a far greater degree. I truly regret those men/all men who have died in the futility of war because in their deaths I must comprehend our future.

In peace - Edward Kienholz

Los Angeles Calif. (Usa)”