Martin Firrell
War Is Always a Failure
War Is Always a Failure
the artist reflects on conversations with British philosopher A.C. Grayling and senior military personnel in the British Army.

War is regarded by both as a dangerous last resort and heroism is seen as something which may take many forms. Moral courage may be even more important than physical courage.

Complete Hero presents a contemporary, plural definition of heroism, including creative and scientific examples, and reflecting the more sexually equal and multi-cultural nature of British society in the 21st century.

Text, graphics and video interviews were presented onto the 1960s modernist elevations of the Guards' Chapel with sound delivered by wireless headsets to the audience in the concourse by the West Front.

Contributors include serving members of the British Army like the senior female officer, Major Fiona Laws, and Johnson Beharry holder of the Victoria Cross; and civilians from contrasting walks of life where the concept of heroism might be equally but differently applied.

April Ashley MBE contributes her story as one of the first people in the world to have gender confirmation surgery. Ashley's courage and grace in the face of daunting odds are celebrated as acts of contemporary and complete heroism.

Other interviewees include cell biologists Dr Jennifer Rohn and Dr Adam Rutherford; drag performer Miss Understanding; philosopher A C Grayling; novelist Howard Jacobson; writer Adam Nicolson, British muslim comedian Shazia Mirza; and Canadian actor Nathan Fillion who also serves as the face of the project.
Part Of
Complete Hero
Guards' Chapel London UK, 4 to 10 Nov 2009
Artist in Residence with the Household
Division of the British Army
Hi-res image