Political is Personal is Political


Political is Personal is “a collaboration between PleaseWakeMeUp Idler and Sherpa Voyager that explores the personal nature of violence through the lens of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq.”

I teleport to Emily’s Nest in Cryphia and immediately feel a sense of foreboding. As the area ‘rezzes’ around me I see I am surrounded by a wall. I wait, and a narrow slit in the wall appears. I look up to see clouds moving high above me.

The political is personal
… is political
Always take it personally


I step through the gap into a courtyard overgrown with nettles and surrounded by prison walls. I walk past dead trees to a warehouse. A blood red mist fills the shadowy interior.

A rotating image called ‘Bibles and Korans and Guns’ spins in the entrance. The image consists of two photographs stuck back to back and I see boy soldiers on both sides. American boy soldiers holding Bibles and guns and a lone Iraqi boy soldier holding the Koran and a gun.

The boy who used to have a
who used to have a life
who used to have a love
Give him a gun
give him fear
give him anger
It’s all political
It’s not ever personal
It’s only one life.


I walk further into the warehouse, stepping into the red mist and see strange pipes with people’s faces on them. The pipes twitch and move when I come close. Some pipes rear up and bend over me and the face is staring down, watching. I don’t know who the people are but guess they represent the men, women and children who have died in Iraq. I wonder why the pipes? Perhaps they are periscope worms rising out of the ground? They are shaped like question marks and remind me of the hearing trumpets used by deaf Victorians. There is no sound here. I am deaf too.

The faces follow you at night
the eyes are watching you
asking you why
the cries haunt your sleep
asking you why
if you want to save us
why kill us first?
you say you want to
create something
yet we are the ones dying
why are you killing us?


I turn to look at the glass panels.



I step up to the panels and then begin walking into them.


As I walk I see hundreds of names appear before me. I walk through the names. The names of casualties.


The picture is never
whole, complete
the mirror has shattered, shards of
glass reflect drunkenly
what we thought to be true
who we thought to be us
when we thought we were right
we never were

Installation created by artist PleaseWakemeUp Idler and poet Sherpa Voyager. All quotes above are by Sherpa Voyager. I could not record all elements of this installation, take a look at it yourself in Second life.

5 thoughts on “Political is Personal is Political

  1. Thank you so much for the review. This installation is scheduled for demolition very soon now. Actually, we were going to take it down today but we’ll leave it up for a just a few more days. Thank you for visiting it. — Wake

  2. Hi Wake, I hope more people see the installation. The ‘Political is Personal’ resonated strongly with me. I worked with asylum seekers in the UK. They were from across the world, the ‘lucky ones’ who had escaped persecution in their countries. Some were victims of rape and torture; some had lost their whole family through violence. They are called ‘asylum seekers’ by the UK government and must ‘prove’ their refugee status in a legal system stacked against them. Many end up being returned to their country and no record is kept about what happens to them upon their return. The UK government collaborates with foreign governments who are known human rights abusers. Some of the people I worked with chose destitution and living outside the system rather than return to Baghdad, Khartoum, Addis Ababa and Kinshasa etc. For me the political is personal is political because the things being done by my government were being done in my name.

  3. hi Wake,

    I really like your work.
    More detail on your thoughts about the sources of the war
    would be good to weave into the text too.
    I like your design too.

  4. You are amazing! Its wonderful how you make use of whatever is available to voice what you need to voice… this is so often what I find people are lacking the chance to do, for example a friend in Afghanistan recently was awarded to do some solid research in the US for 3 months. I was reading his drafts and they were absolutely fabulous, & he was using Afghan ways to make his points ie through the old man in the park in Kandahar who compared his trees & plants to the wider reality – wonderful stuff… but the institution he was with said that he had to change it to for the US audience so not only could he not write about the old man, but he couldn’t say what he thought was really happening… luckily we discussed it & I have shared his thoughts on the international community in Afghanistan with other peacebuilders all over the world. To make the circle of personal-political-personal, it is so important to get the chance to SAY WHAT WE FEEL TO THE WORLD… & I take my hat off to you!!!!!

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