The Warbonds Certificate

Offset print with multiple security features
4.25” x 7.75”
Edition of 2,500

A fine art print utilizing multiple modern security document features as part of a larger conceptual work.

A large edition of The Warbonds Certificate was manufactured with the intention of selling each one at a price that, collectively, would raise enough funding to produce a factory run of 100,000 mouse-eared toy soldiers. These soldiers would comprise the installation, Fighting Forces—a work conceptualized shortly after the events of 9/11. This project predates the era of indiegogo, Kickstarter, and GoFundMe, and even the coining of the term “crowdfunding.”

The printing of these certificates had to be done by a specialized security print house—a business that typically prints municipal bonds, federal bonds, stamps, and stock certificates. Each print playfully utilizes features often reserved for security documents, including holographic ribbons and microprinting. But by the time Leonard’s design was ready for press, the U.S. was gearing up to invade Iraq and The Warbonds Certificate was construed as anti-war and anti-military. After the intervention of at least one state attorney general (who expressed concern of securities fraud and threatened conflicts of interest), U.S. businesses that had once been able to furnish Leonard with job estimates were no longer interested in producing the print. A printer in Great Britain ultimately agreed to manufacture the certificates.

Due in part to the legal obstacles erected in opposition to this project, the print edition never sold enough to raise funds necessary to produce the toy soldiers of Fighting Forces. Instead, The Warbonds Certificate became a central figure in the monologue, The Warbonds Performance.

The Warbonds Performance

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2007 - 2010 
Monologue with slide projections (costuming elements pictured) 
Duration approx. 20 minutes

This performance piece, written by James Leonard with staging assistance from Heather Mell, is the live component of The Warbonds Project.