Krzysztof Wodiczko: The Art Of Un-War

The Art of Un-War Explores Powerful Responses to War, Injustice, and the Healing Potential of Art
Year Released
Film Length(s)
61 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


"The Art of Un-War" takes viewers on a captivating journey through the life and artistic interventions of renowned artist Krzysztof Wodiczko. For over 50 years Wodiczko has explored the profound impact of violence on humanity and the transformative power of art as a medium for public discourse. The film explores Wodiczko's monumental slide and video projections on architectural facades and monuments, which serve as powerful vehicles for addressing themes such as war trauma, displacement, history, memory, and public communication. This film serves as an invaluable resource for educators offering a catalyst for meaningful classroom discussions and driving social change. Relevant topics include: Art, Design, Media and Communication, Film, Ethics, Peace and Conflict Resolution, Immigration, Activism, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, and Conflict Resolution.

Featured review

“The documentary does a great job of tackling the artist’s work, and how it addresses themes of displacement, trauma, and—as the title suggests—war.“
Kevin Hall
Video Librarian


"The Art of Un-War" presents a profound exploration into the life and socially engaged art of Krzysztof Wodiczko, spanning over five decades. Wodiczko's dedication to condemning militarization and war is evident in his powerful public interventions, disrupting the glorification of aggression and challenging our indifference towards war, xenophobia, and displacement. This documentary showcases Wodiczko's artistic interventions as exemplars of art's transformative potential for social change and healing.

The film delves into Wodiczko's social practice, which combines art and technology as critical design practices to shed light on marginalized social communities and confront cultural issues that often go unnoticed. Through his thought-provoking public art interventions, Wodiczko's projects becomes an agent of social change, offering healing while challenging the glorification of state-sanctioned aggression. The film demonstrates how these interventions disrupt public complacency, highlighting the disruptive potential of art.

One of the featured works in the film is the Abraham Lincoln War Veteran Projection in Union Square, NYC, where Wodiczko projects the voices and images of war veterans suffering from PTSD onto the Lincoln statue. The narratives of these veterans, alongside Wodiczko's own story of trauma, intertwine, becoming a powerful vehicle for healing. Additionally, the film highlights other projects that amplify the voices of refugees from Iraq and North Africa, atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima, homeless individuals in New York, and war veterans from France.

The trajectory of Wodiczko's life unfolds throughout the documentary, from his birth during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in World War II to his expulsion from Poland by the communist regime and his present-day endeavors. This exploration of the Polish-born artist's life and art focuses on the recurring themes of war and trauma that have shaped his five-decade-long career. Wodiczko's public projections emerge as poignant responses to the injustices and horrors of war.

The film traces the evolution of Wodiczko's political art, from his early interventions in Warsaw in 1968 as a response to censorship to one of his most ambitious projects, which becomes a central focal point of the documentary. This project entails a radical proposal to transform Paris' Arc De Triomphe war monument into a site for peace-building research and activism. By encasing the monument in scaffolding and transforming it into its antithesis, Wodiczko challenges its glorification of war and distorted historical narratives.


"The Art of Un-War was the perfect addition to my university class module on leveraging tools for beneficial social change, part of my international studies curriculum. It provoked energetic discussion about the role of art and artists in society, the line between art and propaganda, and the importance of making art visible even to those not seeking it out. Krzysztof Wodiczko's work is an inspiration, as is Maria Niro's telling of it. I recommend it for courses ranging from conflict and international relations, to art and society, to social activism.
Stacy J. Kosko, PhD, Director of the College Park Scholars International Studies program, and an affiliate in the Center for International Development
Conflict Management at the University of Maryland
"I use THE ART OF UN-WAR in my class “The Power of Nonviolence for Social Change” and heartedly recommend this film for the important issues it raises and fruitful discussions it provokes, both in the classroom and in society. It is an inspirational and timely film.
Douglas P. Fry
Anthropologist, Professor, and Chair, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies. University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Author of “Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace"
"Social justice is a primary theme....the imagery of Wodiczo’s works is hauntingly effective and makes a compelling case against war, particularly the aftermath. A worthwhile addition for libraries seeking materials of protest."
Andrew Koval, MSLS EMRO
Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO)
"This beautifully filmed powerful documentary will speak to audiences who long for peace."
Candace Smith
Media, Booklist Online
The Art of Un-War – cinematic ethnography years in the making – is an invaluable educational resource for institutions and agencies that want to offer a more expansive approach to the political aesthetics of hospitality and peace than has been available in traditional media genres.
Michael J. Shapiro Professor Emeritus. Department of Political Science, University of Hawai'i, Manoa
"I’ve ordered the film and am looking forward to using it in my class this semester—Public Art and Memory in America. Krzysztof Wodiczko has long been one of my favorite artists, thanks for making this film!"
Erika Doss
Professor Department of American Studies, University of Notre Dame
"More than ever, in these challenging times, we need art that addresses the trauma of war, displacement, and violence. I’m grateful that this film was made about Krzysztof Wodiczko’s unique vision and deep commitment to addressing the topic of war. I have shared his provocative work with students for many decades; this film beautifully frames the passion and healing nature of the work."
Beverly Naidus
Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts, University of Washington, Tacoma.
"THE ART OF UN-WAR reveals how artist Krzysztof Wodiczko's work employs surprise, illusion, and intrigue to engage an audience, beyond the fine art cognoscenti."
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
THE ART OF UN-WAR is an important contribution to the world, to history and to Krzysztof Wodiczko's work
Mary Schneider Enriquez, Curator, Harvard Art Museums
Maria Niro skillfully captures the ephemeral and emotionally compelling anti-war art of Krzysztof Wodiczko. Wodiczko's public projections and installations challenge the cultural signifiers reinforcing a bellicose conception of the nation-state while centering the voices and concerns of those people most directly affected by war. Niro's approach allows the emotional force of Wodiczko's work to move the viewer.
Kelly DeVine
Artistic Director, Global Peace Film Festival
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
Winner, Best Documentary New Jersey International "Krzysztof’s projections on statues and buildings are brilliant. He brings these dead objects to life and makes viewers question what they stand for."
Albert Nigrin, Director of New Jersey International FIlm Festival, Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University

Awards and Screenings

Director Commentary

Upon my initial encounter with Krzysztof Wodiczko and his captivating artwork in New York back in 2012, I was immediately struck by its mesmerizing and profound nature. His public projections resonated with me on a deep level, offering a sense of direction, context, and potential resolution to the inequalities and pain I witnessed in the world around me. Wodiczko's work not only invites a deeper understanding of the complex issues he explores but also holds immense relevance and meaning in our contemporary times.

The themes explored in the film, particularly those concerning immigrants, hold significant relevance amidst the current global political climate and the ongoing migrant and war crises. With millions of individuals worldwide forced to flee unprovoked wars, conflicts, and oppressive regimes, I saw an opportunity for this film to contribute to the vital dialogue between art and war. These realizations laid the foundation for the creation of "The Art of Un-War," a documentary that delves into the life and work of Wodiczko.

Over the course of the past seven years, as I focused my lens on Wodiczko and his artistic journey, a special bond formed between us. I had the privilege of capturing a pivotal phase in his life, where he shared the experiences that have shaped him throughout his lifetime. His deep concern for the injustices that persist and his contemplation on the possibility of peace, breaking the relentless cycle of war, became evident through our interactions.

As a first-generation immigrant myself, I carry the intergenerational trauma that my grandparents and parents endured under Italy's fascist regime. The first time I encountered Wodiczko's work, I felt an immediate and profound connection, recognizing an opportunity for personal healing and for others who have experienced similar journeys. It has been an absolute privilege to immerse myself in Krzysztof Wodiczko's life and artistic contributions.

Maria Niro

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • Subtitles

Film/Audio Languages

  • English
  • French
  • Italian

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • French
  • Italian
  • Japanese

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

Resources for Educators

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