The Great War Exhibition: Wellington

Peter Jackson, the famous film director known for his direction of the Lord of The Rings Trilogy and the Hobbit Trilogy, has recreated the global story of the First World War at The Great War Exhibition, in Wellington, New Zealand. Opened in April 2015, the exhibit consists of an incredible array of movie-like sets that depict the war; scene by scene; year by year. Opened in April 2015, the exhibit commemorates the role played by New Zealand in the war, but also shows the hardship and bravery of those who lived through this pivotal time in history – the horrors of war as well as the bravery and spirit which endured.

The exhibit has also colorized hundreds of photos that were captured during the war, and they “melt away the last 100 years” gap in technology. “This exhibition tells the story in brilliant colour, evaporating 100 years, so we can understand and empathise with those who lived through this terrible war…which is so important now and into the future.” Peter Jackson



War Artist: John Piper

John Piper (1903-1992) was an English painter, printmaker, draughtsman, designer, and writer. He was an official war artist in WWII, and he is most well known for the paintings he completed during this time.

At the start of World War Two, Piper volunteered to work interpreting aerial photographs for the RAF, but was persuaded by Sir Kenneth Clark to work as an war artist for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee, which he did from 1940 to 1944. Piper was one of only two artists, the other being Meredith Frampton, commissioned to paint inside of Air Raid Precaution control rooms. Throughout the war, Piper worked for the Recording Britain project, initiated by Kenneth Clark, to paint historic sites thought to be at risk from bombing or neglect of care. He also worked under some private commissions during the war. He was commissioned by Viscount Ridley to produce a series of watercolours of Blagdon Hall, and this led to a commission from the Royal family for a series of watercolours of Windsor Castle and Windsor Great Park, which Piper completed by March 1942.

Most of his paintings are landscapes of various buildings and towns that had been destroyed or severely damaged during the war, and presents a erie and unique kind of landscape painting. The contrast between what traditional landscapes are and what Pipers are shows how truly destructive war is. Piper captures the absolute devastation that war bring to a landscape, and though his work was originally meant to be documenational it can act as a counter to war, and artistic evidence of its destruction. Instead of focusing on the beauty of the architecture or environment that landscapes traditionally embody, his work captures the ugly and the destroyed, caused by war.



Mathew Brady: Civil War Photographer

Mathew Brady, known as the father of photojournalism, is most well known for his photo documentation of the Civil War. His pictures  had a tremendous impact on society at the time of the war, and still captivate people today. Brady and his employees photographed  images of battlefields, camp life, and portraits of some of the most famous citizens of his time including. Some including Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee.

During the outbreak of the Civil War, Brady wanted to create an elaborate photo-documentation of the war. “At his own expense, he organized a group of photographers and staff to follow the troops as the first field-photographers.” He supervised the activities of the photographers, preserved plate-glass negatives, and purchased equipment from private photographers in order to make the collection as complete and elaborate as possible. Brady and his staff of photographers captured incredible images of the Civil War, including the Fist Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg.

By the end of the war, Brady had gotten into serious debt from the production of the project, and was in hopes of selling his collection to the New York Historical Society but the deal fell through and never happened.. Fortunately for the American public, he sold his collection to the United States government in 1875 for $25,000, which was enough to pay off his debt. His images are still some of the most telling and most authentic forms of documentation that we have from the Civil war.


“Marginalized” by Meyer Bernstein: Exhibit

“Marginalized,” is the artwork of Chicago artist Gerda Meyer Bernstein that was displayed at Bradley University’s Hartmann Center Gallery. The exhibit is part of the Midwest Women Artists 1940-1960 symposium that was held at the Bradley in October of 2015.

Born in Westphalia, Germany, and but currently living and working in Chicago, Bernstein made an emotionally and politically charged installation on a human scale. Bernstein escaped Nazi Germany as a child in one of the last Kindertransports, but lost many of her family members. This greatly influences her work, and her goal is to not remain silent, “as a witness to social and political injustices”.

Meyer Bernstein uses 2D constructions, installation, and mixed media to enable viewers to view and participate in her scenarios. “Marginalized,” a 2006 installation piece, measures 22 feet in diameter.

“Marginalized expresses my concerns with the inequality of women internationally,” said Bernstein. “The 22- by 22-foot installation with 22 female life-size figures, clad in loose burlap material dyed green, the color of used army parachutes, are installed in a circle, which emphasizes the continuous abuse of women.”

“The parachute lends importance because of its previous use as a life saving device,” she said. “There remains a pervasive gender inequality which keeps women from asserting their human rights.

“My art is forced to be political by crisis. … Silence is the biggest offender. With breaking the silence I hope to challenge the viewers’ sensibilities.”

The exhibit is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. The Hartmann Center Gallery is located at 1400 W. Bradley Ave., Peoria.

Exercise in Futility, 2008 (Above)



Sarajevo Red Line Memorial Event

The Sarajevo Red Line was a memorial event organized between the City of Sarajevo and East West Theatre Company which commemorated the Siege of Sarajevo’s 20th anniversary. It was held on April 6, 2012, in the main Sarajevo street, and consisted of a large red chair installation.

Directed by Haris Pasovic, the event remembers all who were killed in the Siege of Sarajevo, approximately 11,541 people died . A total of 643 were children were killed during the siege, therefore, 643 of the chairs in Sarajevo Red Line were small – representing the slain children. Some people placed teddy bears, little plastic cars, and other toys or candy as gifts to the deceased children who were killed during the Siege.

The siege of Sarajevo lasted 44 months and is considered today as the longest in modern history. Most of the people killed in the city were hit by snipers and bombs fired from the surrounding Serb-controled mountains.The April 6, 2012 commemoration was the first time that Sarajevo has put on an official program of this scale in memory of the victims of the siege. In 2014, exhibition of photographs from the Sarajevo Red Line opened in Istanbul, Turkey.


Beasts of No Nation: Review

In 2015, Netflix released their first ever full length produced film, titled Beasts of No Nation. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and based off the novel by Uzodinma Iweala, the films depicts the life of a child soldier, Agu, in central Africa. Agu, played by Abraham Attah, is a young boy probably around the age of 10 or 12, and early on in the film, his family is executed and he is the only member of his family to escape being captured or being killed by the fictional government. He soon encounters a group of rebel soldiers, most of which are child soldiers, led by a man they call Commandant (Idris Elba). While Agu is afraid of his commander and many of the men and soldiers around him, his childhood has been brutally shattered by the war raging through his country, and he is at first torn between conflicting revulsion and fascination of mechanics of war, but he does not shy away from explicit, visceral detail, and paints a complex, difficult picture of the child soldier.

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The film goes in depth into the disturbing and brutal realities of real child soldiers in Africa. All though the nation and he story depicted is fictional, the kinds of warfare and conflicts that take place throughout the film are actual realities that take place in various countries in central and west Africa. Throughout the film Agu is faced with conflicts of being forced to kill grown men(pictured above) given hallucinogenic drugs, and partakes in brutal and gruesome ravages of small villages, where soldiers steal, murder and rape the people of the village.

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The film also shows conflicts that arise from Agu’s experience as a soldier. He see’s internal conflicts within his militia arise as soldiers begin to turn against their Commandant, and he is forced to take a side of the either the Man who abducted him into the militia, or follow his fellow soldiers into the unknown where they will most likely be killed or captured without any leadership. Another child soldier who Agu befriends is killed during battle and Agu looses another person that he cares about. Perhaps the most powerful part of the film comes at the end, when Agu is rescued by members of the U.N. and is taken to a sanctuary away from the militia and warfare he was a part of. While he is there, Agu is depicted as suffering from PTSD and withdrawals from the various drugs he had been taking, and it creates an image that becomes hard to watch as a child is now experiencing the pain and trauma of war, something that most grown men have an extremely hard time recovering from after war.

Whaam! By Roy Lichtenstein

One of the most important pop art artworks to come out of the sixties was actually one that was dedicated to war. Roy  Lichtenstein studied art before serving in the U.S. Army for World War II. Although he served for the army, he worked as a draftsman in a non-combat role and never saw actually combat.

He began working in abstract expressionist art in the 50’s and 60’s and Whaam! Was made in 1963. It was adapted by a panel by Irv Novik  from the “Star Jockey” story from issue No. 89 of DC Comics “All American Men of War”.

Whaam! shows a fighter aircraft in the left of the panel firing a rocket at an enemy plane in the right of the composition, which is in the midst of transforming into a vivid red-and-yellow explosion. The cartoon style is emphasized by the use of the lettering “WHAAM!” in the right panel, and a yellow-boxed caption with black text at the top of the painting. The textual exclamation “WHAAM!” can be considered the graphic equivalent of the sound the explosion in real life would make.

The painting takes from the comic style intentionally, as a representation of how warfare is perceived and portrayed to pop culture. Wham! exemplifies the kind of heroic and exciting persona that was transcending into pop culture, and use of vibrant comic style colors and text is a metaphor to this kind of perception of war. Whaam! was bought by the Tate Museum in London in 1966, and is still on display at the museum.

Roy Lichtenstein Whaam.jpg