Krzysztof Wodiczko: The Art of Un-War
a film by Maria Niro
Renowned artist Krzysztof Wodiczko has practiced socially engaged art for over five decades and 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 Art of Un-War focuses on Wodiczko's social practice art and the recurring themes of war, trauma and displacement in his work.
The Art of Un-War is an in-depth exploration of Wodiczko’s life and the art interventions he creates as powerful responses to the inequities and horrors of war and injustice. Throughout the film, the artist’s powerful interventions become examples of how art can be used to for social change and for healing.
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, 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.
Filmed in the United States, France, Canada, Japan, and South Korea, The Art of Un-War is one of the most comprehensive investigations into Wodiczko’s lifelong inquiry of historical war monuments. Narrated by Wodiczko, and in conversations with artists, activists, art historians, and curators. Through colleagues and fellow artists, we come to know Wodiczko as an empathetic media artist with a deep commitment to exposing the travesties of war and its aftermath.