The work of artist Krzysztof Wodiczko focuses on the effects of violence and the healing power of public discourse. The Art Of Un-War follows Wodiczko, renowned for his large-scale slide and video projections on architectural facades and monuments. The film features works that touch upon war trauma, displacement, history and memory, and communication in the public sphere, the major themes from Wodiczko's oeuvre which spans over five decades.
The film focuses on Wodiczko's social practice which combines art and technology as critical design practices to highlight marginal social communities and address cultural issues that are often overlooked. An instigator for social change, many of Wodiczko’s powerful public art interventions offer healing while disrupting the valorization of state-sanctioned aggression. Throughout the film, the artist’s powerful interventions become examples of how art can be used to disrupt public complacency.
Featured are some of Wodiczko's most timely works such as the Abraham Lincoln War Veteran Projection in Union Square, NYC, where Wodiczko projects the voices and images of war veterans who suffer from PTSD, onto the Lincoln statue. Throughout the film the veterans' 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. Other projects in the film feature refugees from Iraq, and North Africa, Atomic Bomb survivors in Hiroshima, homeless people from New York, and war veterans from France.
Wodiczko’s trajectory unfolds from his birth in the midst of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 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 and trauma in his work throughout his five decades career. Wodiczko's public projections become impactful responses to the inequities and horrors of war and injustice.
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.
The Art of Un-War has been used widely by educators in the following fields: Art, Trauma, Activism, Cinema, Media, Design and Architecture, War, Peace and Conflict Studies, International Relations, Anthropology, Sociology, Social Practice Art, and Socially Engaged Art. Wodiczko's powerful public projections he's created over the past five decades have been explored by educators and in art history books for decades. The Art of Un-War is a great tool that ignites insightful conversations in the classrooms using art and to create social change about healing the scars of violence.