“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
ONE MILLION BONES
I was witness to an amazing piece of artwork and political statement addressing genocide on Washington, D.C.’s National Mall this past weekend. Seeing the huge pile of shoes at the U.S. Holocaust Museum a few blocks away, was one of the most moving things I have seen about genocide until this weekend. Seeing one million bones laid out helps put into perspective the horrors and loss of genocide. Naomi Natale is the artist who started this project, and she can be seen in this TED-Global video about her inspiration and creativity in making this project come to reality:
One Million Bones, a project of the Art of Revolution, was developed over three years and started with 50,000 bones being made and laid out in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The project grew and went to other cities like New Orleans and growing to a national campaign to culminate the work of many people. These hand-made bones were made by people from all 50 states and from over 30 countries by people affected by genocide. It also raises awareness of the ongoing genocide and mass atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Burma, and Somalia. Congratulations to Naomi and the Art of Revolution for reaching their goal and shining light on this important issue.
THE LABRYINTH : The Testimony of Marian Kolodziej
Seeing these bones on the National Mall also brought to mind a DVD that I watched recently and highly recommend called The Labyrinth (2011). It is a powerful documentary about a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp. His artwork drawings are a haunting and detailed remembrance of the horrors of the camp. Marian also honors Maximilian Maria Kolbe, a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar he knew briefly in the camp and is represented in his artwork.
History of Saint Maximillian Kolbe (martyr): On July 31, 1941, in reprisal for one prisoner’s escape, ten men were chosen to die. Father Kolbe offered himself in place of a young husband and father. And he was the last to die, enduring two weeks of starvation, thirst, and neglect. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982. (Catholic Online)
Below is a video clip of the documentary:
Marian Kolodziej was on one of the first transports to enter Auschwitz. He was given number 432. He survived and never spoke of his experience for 50 years. After a serious stroke in 1993, he began rehabilitation by doing pen and ink drawings depicting the experiences he and others endured in the concentration camp. These drawings, in their skeletal detail, are a gripping depiction of the pain, death, and horrors of the camp. While most of the drawings represent the memories of a young man’s hellish experiences in Auschwitz, some tell stories of small acts of kindness and dignity.
Marian’s story of survival, of persistence, of life before, during, and after Auschwitz are a testament to the human spirit. Marian’s drawings and art installations, which he called The Labyrinth, fill the large basement of a church near Auschwitz and draw visitors into the horrific reality of the holocaust.
“This is not an exhibition, nor art. These are not pictures. These are words locked in drawings…I propose a journey by way of this labyrinth marked by the experience of the fabric of death…It is a rendering of honor to all those who have vanished in ashes.”
Saint Maximillian Kolbe (SQPN) (patron saint of drug addicts, prisoners, and journalists)