So I’m a bit obsessed with Marina Abramovic these days.
Not so much the stalker-type obsessed, but definitely willing to read about her work, the details of her retrospective at MOMA, or pointers to her long career. Two bits from today’s reading about Abramovic: a long, thoughtful account of waiting in line to sit with the artist on Jezebel, and a short film she did for the UN’s “Stories on Human Rights” in 2008.
The film is visually beautiful, of course: children playing with toy guns, a juxtaposition of clean lines in a white shelter, and sudden, jarring images of young pre-pubescent girl soldiers lying in bed under a pink comforter, cradling their guns.
What’s most striking to me about the video, however, is the unsuppressable joy of the child actors. This does not seem accidental: the artist’s inclusion of their play-fighting could easily have been left on the editing room floor. Yet the children’s ecstatic faces when playing with guns is evident, and jars us from losing ourselves completely in the pure aesthetics of the film.
According to Amnesty International, 250,000 children function as soldiers in wars around the globe (including in Uganda, where I recently visited). This is the point of the film. After witnessing the beauty in Abramovic’s work, you’ll understand why this statistic (250,000!) resonates so soundly.