Thursday, March 25, 2010

One Million Bones: Artist's Genocide Project

Each of one million people will create a "bone". 

Each bone will represent a person lost to or displaced by genocide.

Together, all the bones will be installed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 2013.

The bones represent Naomi Natale's efforts to increase global awareness about the atrocity we call genocide.

The bones represent the kind of social change for which each of us, one person at a time, can advocate.

* * * * *
Genocide: n. The deliberate and systematic destruction
of a race, political, or cultural group.
~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary

n. deliberate extermination of a race of people.
~ Oxford American Dictionary

In Darfur, Sudan, it is estimated that more than 400,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million have fled a government-sponsored campaign of rape, displacement, organized starvation, and mass murder.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than 5.4 million people have died since 1996 from war and its devastating effects and aftermath, including military-sanctioned sexual violence.

In Burma, some 650,000 people have been displaced and more than 3,500 villages burned, with government troops systematically violently abusing those in the civilian population who are involved in pro-democracy protests.

Beware the statistics: Not one of the individuals included in these countings is an abstraction on paper.*

* * * * *

Italian-born Naomi Natale is an installation artist, a photographer, a social activist, a 2009 Ted Fellow. She conceived her project, One Million Bones, to recognize individuals caught up in wars not of their own making and made to suffer unspeakable acts of violence, sometimes, as in Rwanda, at the hands of persons who used to be neighbors or friends or colleagues at work or school.

In addition to creating what Natale calls a "visual demand for solutions to the issue", the project, launched last week, aims to raise monies for critical humanitarian aid.

As in the One Million Bones Project, Natale, who grew up on the East Coast and now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, uses her art — and, in particular, large-scale installations involving huge numbers of artists, activists, and children —to engage in and inspire social change. Her earlier initiatives include The Cradle Project, which publicizes the deleterious effects of disease and poverty that have left some 48 million children orphaned in sub-Saharan Africa.

The project Website lists a number of ways to become involved: Create and Sponsor a Bone ($5), Donate (the project has received official IRS recognition as a 501(3)(c) tax-exempt organization), Volunteer, Have a Bone Made in Your Name, Host a Bone-Making Party, Spread the Word.

The deadline for creating and submitting bones is February 2013. Information on how to make bones  of clay, fabric, metal, paper, plaster, papier machie, wood or other such materials, is here.

The project provides information and curricular materials for educators who wish to incorporate Natale's initiative into classroom teaching and to participate directly in the creation of the art installation.


* Data provided on One Million Bones Website.

Statistics on genocide are easily found. Look herehere, here, here, here, or here, for example. We seem unusually able to document what occurs. We obviously have no lasting "solution" to prevent it. Giving up on it is not an option.

The One Million Bones Project blog is here.

You may follow One Million Bones on Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter.

A 2010 Carl Wilkens Fellow, Naomi Natale also is on FaceBook and LinkedIn.

Beneficiaries of funds raised from the project include Enough, Raise Hope for Congo, Sister Schools, and Genocide Intervention Network.

A bone-making tutorial is on YouTube, as is a video of students making bones.

Natale gives her TedFellow talk about her project (another video, on her Cradle Project, is here):


Louise Gallagher said...

She is a brave woman. Thanks for supporting her project by bringing it to light here.

Anonymous said...

an enterprising person.

i wonder about the making of things that represent real bones of real people and real suffering and real death.

Unknown said...

Installation art, to me, comes the closest to prophecy, the Ezekiel kind-- of being in art itself, or using what is at hand for illustration.

Will be thinking this over, have read it much too quickly.

Anonymous said...

Powerful. I like the way the music/audio starts playing when I begin to read your post.

This is so incredibly disturbing, but in need of our attention. Thanks, Maureen.