Tag Archives: art history

Flower of Srebrenica

Enes Klopic  Illustration  July 7, 2014

8,372, that’s the number of boys and men killed on July 11, 1995 in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.  In a town that was supposed to be a UN safe haven during the Bosnian war, Dutch peacekeepers were unable to keep the Bosnian Serb forces from entering the city, rounding up all the men and boys (officially) over the age of 15, and executing them.  Many of them were from nearby villages that arrived in the three years preceding the genocide seeking refuge from the war. 8,372, and that does not include more than 20,000 women, children and elderly that were displaced.

Relatively short in terms of war and armed conflict in general, the Bosnian war lasted from April 6, 1992 to December 14, 1995.  By July of ’95, the end seemed imminent, and the loss of the Army of Republika Srpska under the command of General Ratko Mladic seemed a forgone conclusion.  Many believe this certainty of defeat is what lead to the mass execution of the civilian population of boys and men.  There was little to no justifiable strategic reasoning, even during war.  It was nothing short of a desperate, last-minute attempt at ethnic cleansing.

On July 6, 1995, the offensive on Srebrenica began officially.  But long before that, the Srpska understood the key to breaking the town.  It was a UN safe haven protected by Dutch peacekeepers.  Rules of war stated they could not attack the town.  So instead, they cut off supplies of food and resources.  When people left the town for supplies, the Bosnian Serbs considered these “raiding parties.”

So they used this as a justification to enter Srebrenica.  NATO forces planned to attack the artillery locations outside of town, but the VRS threatened to attack other civilian populations and kill their Dutch and French hostages.  So the Srpska entered town triumphantly.

In the days that followed, the men and boys were separated from the women.  For the most part, they were marched or trucked to wooded areas or the river and executed.  Those fleeing through the woods were often coerced back into the trucks by Serb forces wearing UN peacekeeping uniforms and helmets taken from the Dutch forces.  Not only were they thrown unceremoniously into mass graves, but the soldiers were ordered to return and move the bodies to other locations to avoid the real numbers being known.

Twenty two years later, graves are still being found.  There are now approximately 7,000 souls interred at the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial and Cemetery.  More than a thousand are still missing.  Every year on this day, July 11, more families finally have a chance to say goodbye to a son, father, brother, husband as DNA provides the evidence to ensure each person receives the proper recognition he deserves.

I encourage you to please, please learn more about the atrocities that took place such a short time ago.  I was in high school when this occurred.  This is not the ancient past, or even the memories of our grandparents.  This is our past.  Mladic was not even arrested for his war crimes until 2011.  I recommend this article in The New York Times:  Life in the Valley of DeathI also recommend this blog, but I warn you, the images are graphic.  Srebrenica Genocide.

The artwork is based on a symbol of remembrance of the genocide at Srebrenica.  Traditionally, the flower is crocheted, a popular art of Bosnia.  It was designed by the members of the association “Gracanica’s Crochet.”  The white petals signify innocence, the green center hope.  There are always eleven petals for the day, July 11.  Here is some more information about the design of the flower Flower of Srebrenica.

Enes Klopic takes this symbol, and transforms it into a beautifully haunting memorial to the lives lost.  The petals are eleven mourning women clothed in white.  They encircle a casket, covered in the traditional green Islamic covering.  Each have their right arm outstretched, touching the green cloth together, almost as one.

While most have their heads down looking at the casket, a few have their heads lifted, faces toward the skies.  But this is also the viewpoint of us, the viewer.  We are looking down from above.  The upturned faces seem to plead with us to see what they see, feel what they touch, and remember.

And one particular woman seems to stare right at you, as the viewer, although we do not see her eyes.  The mother on the top right appears to ask where you were when her child was marched away and executed, and tossed into a mass grave.  She seems to not quite accuse you, the viewer, as the perpetrator of the crime, but as a silent witness that stood by and let it happen.

Enes Klopic is a graphic designer from Bosnia who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo.  He now lives in Germany.  His Facebook page has a larger version of this piece, with the Srebrenica skyline at night in the foreground.  The flower is above, almost like a bright, full moon.

Read more about what the artist has to say about the work here:  Enes Klopic  (although Google Translator doesn’t seem to do a great job with Bosnian.)  I also spoke with him about the piece via Facebook to ask for his permission to post this blog.  He was very gracious and humble, saying his flower is free to share with everyone.  It is the lives of those lost we need to remember.

srebrenica casket

This photo is from the memorial service in 2010 when 775 newly identified remains were interred.   Photograph: Fehim Demir/EPA  July 11, 2010 The Guardian

I really wanted to actually list all 8,372 names here instead of just posting a link.  Unfortunately, every time I tried that, the paged locked up.  The sheer number of names locked up my whole system.  So instead, please click here Srebrenica Victims to read all of their names.

 

Bosnia

Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial and Cemetery                             Photo:www.skyscrapercity.com

 

 

 

 

 

Frederick III’s Dream

Anonymous  Woodblock  1617

On October 30, 1517, Elector Frederick III had a strange and elaborate dream.  The next day, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.  The Reformation had begun.

One hundred years later, this broadside was printed in Leipzig to mark the anniversary.  It shows how Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, correctly foretold of Martin Luther’s centric role in the Reformation.  By posting the 95 theses, Luther challenged the Catholic Church, which would lead to the split between Catholics and Protestants still followed today.

There is so much happening in this letterpress print.  On the right side near the top you see a seated Martin Luther writing in a book.  He’s receiving Divine inspiration from above.

My favorite part is actually the man at the bottom picking up what looks to be parts of Luther’s pen that have sprouted off.  I think it’s such a great representation of how word of the 95 theses spread.  Copy after copy after were made and distributed.  This was the 16th century version of “going viral.”

Happy Reformation Day!

Here is a description of Frederick’s dream found at www.reformation.org:

On the morning of the 31st October, 1517, the elector said to Duke John,

“Brother, I must tell you a dream which I had last night, and the meaning of which I should like much to know. It is so deeply impressed on my mind, that I will never forget it, were I to live a thousand years. For I dreamed it thrice, and each time with new circumstances.”

Duke John: “Is it a good or a bad dream?”

The Elector: “I know not; God knows.”

Duke John: “Don’t be uneasy at it; but be so good as tell it to me.”

The Elector: “Having gone to bed last night, fatigued and out of spirits, I fell asleep shortly after my prayer, and slept calmly for about two hours and a half; I then awoke, and continued awake to midnight, all sorts of thoughts passing through my mind. Among other things, I thought how I was to observe the Feast of All Saints. I prayed for the poor souls in purgatory; and supplicated God to guide me, my counsels, and my people according to truth. I again fell asleep, and then dreamed that Almighty God sent me a monk, who was a true son of the Apostle Paul. All the saints accompanied him by order of God, in order to bear testimony before me, and to declare that he did not come to contrive any plot, but that all that he did was according to the will of God. They asked me to have the goodness graciously to permit him to write something on the door of the church of the Castle of Wittenberg. This I granted through my chancellor. Thereupon the monk went to the church, and began to write in such large characters that I could read the writing at Schweinitz. The pen which he used was so large that its end reached as far as Rome, where it pierced the ears of a lion that was crouching there, and caused the triple crown upon the head of the Pope to shake. All the cardinals and princes, running hastily up, tried to prevent it from falling. You and I, brother, wished also to assist, and I stretched out my arm; — but at this moment I awoke, with my arm in the air, quite amazed, and very much enraged at the monk for not managing his pen better. I recollected myself a little; it was only a dream.

“I was still half asleep, and once more closed my eyes. The dream returned. The lion, still annoyed by the pen, began to roar with all his might, so much so that the whole city of Rome, and all the States of the Holy Empire, ran to see what the matter was. The Pope requested them to oppose this monk, and applied particularly to me, on account of his being in my country. I again awoke, repeated the Lord’s prayer, entreated God to preserve his Holiness, and once more fell asleep.”

“Then I dreamed that all the princes of the Empire, and we among them, hastened to Rome, and strove, one after another, to break the pen; but the more we tried the stiffer it became, sounding as if it had been made of iron. We at length desisted. I then asked the monk (for I was sometimes at Rome, and sometimes at Wittenberg) where he got this pen, and why it was so strong. ‘The pen,’ replied he, ‘belonged to an old goose of Bohemia, a hundred years old. I got it from one of my old schoolmasters. As to its strength, it is owing to the impossibility of depriving it of its pith or marrow; and I am quite astonished at it myself.’ Suddenly I heard a loud noise — a large number of other pens had sprung out of the long pen of the monk. I awoke a third time: it was daylight.”

Duke John: “Chancellor, what is your opinion? Would we had a Joseph, or a Daniel, enlightened by God!”

Chancellor: “Your highness knows the common proverb, that the dreams of young girls, learned men, and great lords have usually some hidden meaning. The meaning of this dream, however, we shall not be able to know for some time — not till the things to which it relates have taken place. Wherefore, leave the accomplishment to God, and place it fully in his hand.”

Duke John: “I am of your opinion, Chancellor; ‘tis not fit for us to annoy ourselves in attempting to discover the meaning. God will overrule all for his glory.”

Elector: “May our faithful God do so; yet I shall never forget, this dream. I have, indeed, thought of an interpretation, but I keep it to myself. Time, perhaps, will show if I have been a good diviner.”

Chernobyl. Last Day of Pripyal

Alexey Akindinov  Oil Painting  2014

Thirty years ago the world witnessed a catastrophic nuclear disaster, one that would be considered the  worst until Fukushima Daiichi in 2011.  This level 7 disaster (on a scale of 7) came just seven years after the level 5 accident at Three Mile Island.  On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Pripyal, Ukrainian SSR experienced a meltdown that released radioactive particles into the atmosphere of most of western USSR and Europe.

Because the plant was state run out of Moscow, the Ukrainian government did not initially receive word about the explosion or continuing fire.  The people of Pripyal went about their daily business.  It would be several hours before they were asked to evacuate.  Even then they were told everything was under control, it was a minor incident.  Those evacuated left the majority of their possessions as they were told they would be able to return after about three days.  Their possessions remain there thirty years later.

Thirty one deaths were originally reported as a direct result of the explosion.  That number is now generally thought to be closer to 50 when you include those in a helicopter crash, although the number is still disputed.  Hundreds of fire and rescue workers suffered from acute radiation poisoning.  Some believe the actual total of deaths related to the meltdown could eventually be as high as 4,000, mostly due to thyroid poisoning.  Still others believe an additional 5,000 on top of that will deal with cancer or illness related to the fallout.

There is a lot of data available not only about the direct human toll, but also about how the radiation effected the air, the water, and the land, as well as the economic impact and social impact.  After this event, many countries upgraded or changed their nuclear power regulations and evacuation plans.  Although the US had already implemented several safety upgrades and changes after Three Mile Island, public opinion was unmistakably shaken.  The nuclear energy sector in America has never fully recovered.

This amazing painting by Alexey Akindinov tells three stories at once.  To the right there is a circle enclosing a mother with a baby in Pripyal looking out toward Chernobyl.  They look out to the Ferris wheel in the distance.  The circle is framed with small radiation symbols.  She does not yet know what is to become of her home, her health, or the health of her baby.

The largest part of the painting is the middle section of the plant itself.  Note the workers fleeing in the background.  The fire fighters and rescue workers attempt to extinguish the flames.

The lower left depicts the scene of the miners digging a tunnel to build a cooling slab under the fourth reactor.  This was done so they could build a sarcophagus around the reactor to keep it from releasing further radiation to the atmosphere.  Notice the collapsed miner outside the tunnel.  A note about the original sarcophagus, it was built to last twenty or thirty years.

The entire painting is covered with what I would describe as snowflakes.  This is really what drew me to this painting.  They are to represent the radiation that was saturating the air.  I think the texture this creates is just incredible.

There are a lot of close ups of this painting here:  http://www.akindinov.com/news-archives/368-news-19-10-2014-en  This website also has a lot of information about each of the vignettes represented in the artist’s own words.  The translation is a bit sketchy, but you’ll get the picture.

There are also some very interesting photos and diagrams in this current USA Today article.  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/04/25/chernobyl-30-year-anniversary/83220302/