Steve McQueen was commissioned by Manchester International Festival and the Imperial War Museum to respond to the conflict in Iraq.
Queen and Country commemorates the British soldiers who have been killed in the ongoing war in Iraq. The project takes the form of a series of postage stamp sheets featuring a photographic portrait of the individual men and women who have lost their lives in the conflict so far. Each stamp also bears the standard profile of Her Majesty the Queen, the sovereign in whose name they went to fight.
Steve McQueen wanted to find a way to bring these people into our everyday lives, our homes and workplaces as a reminder of our country’s participation in this war. This project is both a tribute to the deceased and a reflection upon the validity of war, the structure of power and notions of national identity.
The work is a collaboration with the families of the deceased, to whom the artist acknowledges a huge debt of gratitude. They each chose the photograph of their lost child, spouse or partner that is reproduced on the stamp. A few families have preferred not to participate – a decision that has been fully respected.
At the start of the project, 115 families were asked to participate, of whom 98 agreed. Unfortunately this is a work in progress; since then more soldiers have died. Their families will all be asked if they wish to partake in the project.
This is the first presentation of Queen and Country. The project will travel to London in July where it will be on public display at the Imperial War Museum.
These stamps are not real. Talks with Royal Mail are ongoing with hope that, given the blessing of the families, an official set of such stamps might be issued.
This work is dedicated to all victims of the Iraq war, including an estimated six hundred thousand Iraqi men, women and children.