Brian was shocked to learn that the Islamic State had appropriated and altered one of his WAR-TOYS photos from Gaza, turning it into propaganda promoting extremist beliefs.
In the altered photo, IS removed the Cinderella toy and replaced it with their flag and other iconography, protected by some sort of shield. The propaganda piece circulated online for several months before its use was discovered by the image-tracking service Pixsy. With Pixsy's help, the altered image has largely been removed from social media sites like Twitter. From Brian:
"I couldn't have imagined that the intention of the work would be corrupted so horribly and used by a group like ISIS. They took a little girl’s very real fear of war and turned it into something promoting extremist beliefs – ones at the core of unspeakable amounts of death and suffering."
The original photo was art directed by a girl at a UNRWA-run school in Gaza. She made a drawing that was filled with tanks, soldiers, and helicopters along with a sky-full of missiles targeting a crying girl. When asked about the drawing, she focused on those two elements – the girl and the missiles. Brian photographed her account in Gaza using locally found toys while missile strikes were hitting close-by.
For more information on the theft and WAR-TOYS project, visit its website at wartoysproject.com