Body Count Brand
Musings | Monthly Muse June 2022
Two generations back, some of my family immigrated to the United States from Ukraine, and I find myself watching media images of the Russian invasion closely from my home in California. Ben Sakoguchi’s Body Count Brand—centered on a carefully painted rendition of a journalist’s gruesome photograph—exposes the tendrils that another far-off war sank deeply into California life. In this small work made nearly half a century ago, Sakoguchi injects imagery of the atrocities of the war in Vietnam into the format of an orange crate label. Oranges of Southern California meet Agent Orange. Death Valley, the great national park, frames the landscape of death along the Mekong. Who is painting California scenarios of today’s suffering in Ukraine?
Professor of Art History and Visual Studies, UC Irvine