Friday, April 30, 2010

Symbolic Action

Today I came across an article about Canadian artist Barb Hunt whose art installation called antipersonnel consists of tiny knitted replicas of landmines. The current installation consists of 75 different kinds of mines; Hunt’s goal is to eventually knit a replica of all 300 types. An important theme in A Short History of Women is the issue of the first Dorothy’s hunger strike for women’s sufferage; is it brave, is it selfish, is it futile? The second Dorothy’s actions (taking photographs, getting arrested) are less drastic but nevertheless have meaning to her. Can Barb Hunt’s idiosyncratic combination of medium and message make a difference? Do symbolic actions work? Remember that in less enlightened times, symbolic actions were often the only actions available to women.

Today I made a donation to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Here are two reasons I support this organization (from the ICBL web site):

The human costs: Antipersonnel landmines still maim and kill ordinary people every day. They blow off their victims' legs, feet, toes and hands. They fire shrapnel into their faces and bodies. They kill.

Civilians bear the brunt. The vast majority of victims are civilians and not soldiers. Year after year, Landmine Monitor has reported that civilians account for 70 to 85 percent of casualties. This is not just during a conflict – most of the countries where casualties are reported are at peace.

I urge you to investigate The International Campaign to Ban Landmines and support their activities. By doing so (and by making a donation) I prove that symbolic actions can make a difference.


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