Monday, June 10, 2013

One million bones

"I wish you were here to see this," wrote my friend Jody Arlington in an e-mail yesterday that included the photo above. Jody – who is now reviewing graphic novels for NPR – and I have been to many art exhibits together in and around Washington, D.C. This striking installation is a carpet of 1,018,260 human bones placed on the National Mall by volunteers on Saturday morning and on display until this afternoon. The bones are not real (they have been hand-crafted from diverse materials by many contributing artisans), but the genocide that they symbolize is real. New Mexico-based and socially conscious artist Naomi Natale began her project "One Million Bones" (VIDEOS HERE) in 2010 to raise awareness of the mass killing in Sudan, Congo, Burma, and Somalia. With preview installations in Albuquerque in New Orleans, the event on the National Mall began with the bone-laying ceremony and included a candlelight vigil, performances, and speeches by experts on human rights. "Natale hopes that viewers will not only confront a powerful, if morbid, symbol of faraway suffering, but recognize the fragility of our own lives, and our connectedness to victims we only hear about on the news. 'We belong to each other,' she says."

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