Sunday, March 11, 2012

In a war, someone has to die

So said a temporarily out-of-work professional African soldier. So heard Danish artist Hanne Bang, who was inspired by a television news interview she saw with the soldier to create a collaborative, stitched art project titled, "In a War Someone has to Die." 

Stitched handkerchiefs. Foreground, Katherine,
background, me.

Bang is collecting embroidered handkerchiefs from stitchers around the world, each inscribed with the soldier's line in her/his own language. She will sew these handkerchiefs together to form a large installation artwork later this year.

I heard about the project on the MrXStitch site. My friend Katherine and I decided to participate. We each stitched up the line in Spanish. Spanish is my mother's first language and I had her write it out for me in her beautiful, strange handwriting. I used a brightly colored new handkerchief and chain stitch.

My handkerchief in chain stitch with little stitched flowers.

Katherine is bilingual, having learned Spanish while in Honduras in the Peace Corps. Her husband is Honduran and she uses Spanish professionally in her social work career. She stitched it up on a vintage handkerchief in backstitch. (Interestingly, Katherine's mother's first language is German. I wonder if she ever considered doing it in German.)

Katherine used a vintage linen.

I love the way that the artist's experience with the news media lead to this art project. To me it shows how being open to stories and news from around the world can inspire huge, collaborative projects.

Imagine the scene: A reporter and a camera person interview a professional African soldier for a Danish news program. The segment is viewed by the Danish artist back in Europe. She is moved by the coldness of the soldier's words and she plays with the feelings and associations that the news story stirs in her.

Brightly colored pink cotton.

Bang then reaches out to the stitching community, online and in her physical surroundings, and we all are pulled into the creation. My mother, who has no other connection to the professional soldier, the unknown reporter or the Danish artist, writes out this sentence at her kitchen table. And she is disturbed by the words her daughter stitches. But she is used to me and she is game.

My mami's handwriting.

Read more about Bang's work here.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't think about doing one in German because I wouldn't even know how to say it in German and my mom would this is a weird project so I didn't ask her. I didn't realize we were both going to do it in Spanish!
    I posted about this in my blog, too -- I took a backlit photo of the handkerchief as that was the only way I could make the words visible!