Female Soldier Ballads 2005
A cappella folk song cycle and screen printed broadsheets

Female Soldier Ballads is a cycle of ballads about U.S. military women Lynndie England, Jessica Lynch, Shoshanna Johnson, and Lori Piestewa that I composed and sang. The compositions are printed on decorative lyric sheets that reference 18th century broadsides, the forebearers of today’s tabloid newspapers.

The project departs from an early sub-genre of British folk ballads about cross-dressing female soldiers and sailors. Similar ballads are performed today, but the Female Soldier archetype also endures in less obscure forms of media. Since the US invaded Iraq, military women have been featured in such pop culture outlets as People Magazine, FOX News, and personal web logs. Their stories influence our understanding of the conflict through emotional appeals, not unlike the salacious 18th Century balladeers who raced to commit current events to verse.

Flak Jacket and Camo Trousers, or The Ballad of Lori Piestewa
alt : http://christygast.com/files/01-flack-jacket-and-camo-trousers-or-the-ballad-of-lori-piestewa.mp3

The Female Volunteers or a Tale of Two POW's
alt : http://christygast.com/files/the-female-volunteers-or-a-tale-of-two-pows.mp3

Lynndie England or the Misadventures of a Female MP at Abu Ghraib Prison
alt : http://christygast.com/files/lynndie-england-or-the-misadventures-of-a-female-mp-at-abu-ghraib-prison-.mp3

Amazonian News Network 2005
video, 5 minutes 45 seconds

Amazonian News Network explores the Female Soldier archetype, representing both gender transgression and patriotism in popular media since the 17th century, through the visual language of a 24-hour news channel. Segments, both factual and fictional, magnify a reporting style in which individual narratives overshadow broader sociopolitical contexts.

Seen on People Magazine, FOX News, and personal blogs, military women's personal narratives have influenced our understanding of the conflict in Iraq. Depending on the situation, the news outlet, and the women’s own marketability, they have been lauded as patriotic heroes, disparaged as weak fighters, held up as poster girls for feminism gone awry, or not regarded as newsworthy.

The score was written and performed by musician/composer Paul Hogan.

Installation views at PS1's Day Labor exhibition and details of the broadsheets: