One Million Bones protests genocide, one papier-mâché femur at a time
Apathy is often cited as the reason that people fail to act against injustice, though perhaps impotence is a more useful way to describe such inaction. If we approach the problem from this perspective—that people don’t act because they don’t feel capable of affecting change—it has a very clear solution: Offer people a compelling, tangible way to make a difference and they will seize it.
This is the guiding principle behind One Million Bones, a large-scale, collaborative art installation conceived and directed by Naomi Natale, an Albuquerque artist, photographer and activist. In places like Sudan, Burma and Democratic Republic of the Congo, millions have been murdered or displaced by systematic killings and ethnic cleansing. The international community has neglected to effectively intervene, and the violence, which has ravaged for years already, continues. One Million Bones aims to unite people who individually—and as of yet, perhaps silently—oppose these genocides. It provides participants with the means to both demand government intervention and to raise support for the conflicts’ many victims. It gives these ongoing tragedies, often muted by our physical distance from them, an emotional presence and a powerful voice.
Over the next three years, Natale, her executive volunteer committee and anyone who wishes to join them will work to create the project’s eponymous one million bones out of papier-mâché and clay. In the spring of 2013, the bones will be shipped to Washington, D.C., and scattered across the National Mall to illustrate the vast losses incurred by genocide. If all goes according to plan, each bone will be sponsored for $5; the total proceeds ($5 million) will be dispersed between the Center for American Progress' Enough Project, the Genocide Intervention Network and Women for Women International—
The programmatic objectives of One Million Bones stretch well beyond the 2013 exhibition and the charitable distribution of funds. Natale and Rick Rennie, an executive volunteer committee member, hatched the idea to inseminate a portion of the bones with perennial seeds. After the National Mall demonstration, they’ll be planted in gardens throughout the country. The plots will be arranged to spell out “NOW.” And every year, the perennials will bloom in this formation to reinforce and remind us of the importance of what Rennie calls “consistent enlightened action.”