Renowned artist Krzysztof Wodiczko has dedicated his life and art in denouncing militarization and war. An instigator for social change, Wodiczko’s powerful public art interventions disrupt the valorization of state-sanctioned aggression and challenge our complacency towards war, xenophobia and displacement. The film focuses on the recurring themes of war, trauma and displacement in Wodiczko's work.

 

"The Art Of Un-War is an important contribution to the world, to history and to Krzysztof Wodiczko's work"

Mary Schneider Enriquez, Houghton Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Harvard Art Museums
Synopsis: 

Combining design and technology, Krzysztof Wodiczko’s projects often function as interventions in public spaces, disrupting the valorization of state-sanctioned aggression. Wodiczko has dedicated his life and art in denouncing militarization and war. The Art Of Un-War  follows Wodiczko, an instigator for social change, as he challenges our complacency towards war, xenophobia and displacement with his unique public projections. Wodiczko’s trajectory unfolds from his birth in Warsaw during World War II, to his expulsion from Poland by the communist regime, to today. This in-depth exploration into the life and art of the Polish born artist focuses on the recurring themes of war in his work throughout his five decades plus career. Wodiczko's public projections become impactful responses to the inequities and horrors of war and injustice.

The film delves into timely works such as Abraham Lincoln War Veteran Projection in Union Square, NYC, where Wodiczko projects the voices and images of soldiers from 20th and 21st-century wars onto the statue of Lincoln. The participants' stories of loss, displacement, abuse, and PTSD combined with Wodiczko’s own story of trauma emerge in tandem as the projects become a vehicle for healing. The evolution of Wodiczko’s political art unfolds throughout the film from his first intervention created in Warsaw in 1968 in response to censorship, to one of his most ambitious projects and a focal point of the film - a radical proposal to transform Paris’ Arc De Triomphe war monument into a site for peace-building research and activism. Wodiczko counters the monument’s glorification of war and portrayal of distorted histories by constructing scaffolding around the Arc De Triomphe and transforming it into its complete antithesis.

Reviews

"The Art Of Un-War is beautifully conceived and compelling... Krzysztof Wodiczko's brilliant and inspiring art challenges us to rethink our perception and understanding of war at this critical moment .”

Jury Award, Special Mention, Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival

"A detailed examination of one of the most important artists of the last 50 years" 

John Carson, Artist & Educator, Carnegie Mellon University

"The Art Of Un-War encourages discussions about major social and cultural issues as well as the powerful work of peace activism through art.”  

Joanna Raczynska, Film Programmer, National Gallery of Art
Director's Commentary: 

When I met Krzysztof Wodiczko in 2012, I was immediately drawn to his work upon seeing it live in New York.  Not only was it mesmerizing and profound but Wodiczko's public projections instilled in me a sense of direction, context, and possible resolution to the pain and inequities I witnessed around me. His work immediately invites a deeper understanding of the complex issues he explores. His public interventions are not only relevant to our times but essential to a greater meaning of the world.  

Many of the projects concerning immigrants featured in the film are especially relevant to the issues it raises against the backdrop of our current political and contemporary migrant crisis.  Millions of people across the globe are fleeing unprovoked wars, conflicts, and authoritarian regimes. I believe this film will expand the important dialogue between art and war.  These were the seeds for The Art Of Un-War.  The work spoke to me and I felt compelled to make an in-depth film about Wodiczko’s life, and his work.

As I’ve focused my lens on Wodiczko and his work over the past seven years, I was able to form a special bond with him. I’ve captured what I believe is one of the most significant phases of Wodiczko’s life.  He shared with me the experiences that have stirred within him over a lifetime - his obsession with the injustices that exist and his meditation on the possibility of peace - ending the maddening spiral of war.  

As a first-generation immigrant myself, the trauma that my grandparents and parents suffered under Italy's fascist regime was passed down to me and my siblings. The first time I saw Wodiczko's work I had a profound connection to it and recognized an opportunity for healing myself and many others like me.  It has been a privilege to immerse myself in Krzysztof Wodiczko’s life and work.

–Maria Niro