- Kasturi Goswami
Serving War Victims With A Relief Project: Paper Planes, An Illustrator Social Media Page & Its Work
Art is an outlet. When the Holocaust came to an end in the literal sense (cause no one is ever in a non-affected zone, considering the inhumane mass murder modus operandi), art helped the people. The people who faced unjust brutality. The people who were scorned for their blood, treated with contempt, and their wounds were left to fester. That art is proof of the truth that those world-shattering days existed.
Their art speaks of their legacies, history, and generations sacrificed in the row to survival. Historical and war art is of particular significance for they slam open windows letting in mounds of suppressed feelings.
The most prominent art created during the holocaust was the real experiences transferred onto canvases by the people who had been part of the concentration camps. Art after the holocaust mainly centred around lived experiences from people who survived or had lived them through the eyes of the survivors. It was a tribute to their sufferings. Holocaust art expressed vast ranges of perspectives and experiences, trauma, and cultural symbolism that haunt civilisations to this day. Scholars of the holocaust unarguably agree on a few prominent groups to categorise art of the genocidal period:
art by victims and survivors aka Ghetto art
art by third party witnesses
art by the perpetrators aka Nazi approved art
art of remembrance aka Response art
As the world is now faced with the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, two filmmakers, Alex Topaller and Daniel Shapiro, have launched a relief project known as Paper Planes. Topaller and Shapiro own a US-based agency, Aggressive which is a design-driven production company. As part of the project, they are dedicated to providing work for freelance illustrators in Ukraine faced with the onslaught of the war. They also manage an Instagram page, @paperplanes_ua, featuring all commissioned illustrations. According to the WIRED sources, they had initially aimed to provide food and shelter for Ukrainian artists who had friends in Warsaw, Poland. But, on receiving many requests for work from artists who weren't able to leave, they finally decided to commission work for them.
WIRED magazine in conversation with a few of those artists had questioned them about their pieces, inspirations, and experiences of the war. All of them are afflicted by trauma as a cause of the war. Their art expresses pain, hope, and faith. The pain of watching their country bleed and brethren suffer, little children and their mothers being burned alive, and having their basic human rights threatened by the ugliness of the war. Despite the agony, their work harbours hope about the safety of their loved ones and the faith for a better tomorrow. These artists illustrate their claim over their thoughts and desperate desires to regain normalcy, yet expressing the horror of the children being robbed of true normalcy and their childhoods. Paper Planes is a small effort but a giant step towards a good cause. It is a message, a call that resembles the light that cuts through the shroud of darkness the war has veiled over the innocent.
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