In my bloggy readings, I keep finding stories of monuments and memorials sold on infantilism, using the lens of “childhood” to conjure an air of authenticity and gravitas.
The New Yorker on Santiago Calatrava:
“In Liège, Belgium, Calatrava was one of seven contestants in an architectural competition to design a high-speed-train station. His rivals came in teams, armed with examples of their past work; Calatrava showed up alone, with his paintbrush [and watercolors], and won the commission. In January, 2004, while presenting his proposal for a new PATH transit hub for the World Trade Center site, Calatrava drew in chalk a child releasing a bird from her hands, thus conveying the genesis of the design, in which a pair of glass-and-steel canopies would arch over the sidewalks of lower Manhattan, like outstretched wings.”
The Washington Post on Ralph Appelbaum:
“When he took on the task of designing a presidential library for former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, for example, he proposed focusing the displays on the question, ‘What does it take to make a Nigerian child?’ It’s an unanswerable question, but it provided the necessary aha moment that made it all come together, a positive theme that finesses some of the philosophical problems of a presidential library in a country riven by corruption, violence, and religious, ethnic, linguistic and economic divisions.”
The Independent on Daniel Libeskind and his World Trade Center design:
“But Libeskind, a Polish American who now lives in Berlin, captured the hearts of New Yorkers when he appeared live on CNN during the final stages of the competition and said: ‘Like so many others, I arrived by ship in New York harbour as a teenager and as an immigrant. The Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline made an unforgettable impression, and this scheme is all about that.’ ‘The minute he said that, he had the job,’ says Doris Saatchi, the New York art collector. ‘It’s not showmanship. He just expresses emotion so well.’”
Meanwhile, actual kids are moving adults to make responsible policy. See Democracy Now!: Testimony of 12-Year-Old with Two Moms Moves Some Vermont Legislators to Support Gay Marriage Bill.
Eleanor Roosevelt famously wrote, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home.“ By implication, the same could be said for racism, nationalism and other ideologies.
Official Representations of the Nation: Comparing the Postage Stamps of Sudan and Burkina Faso looks at the ideology of stamps:
“Sudan’s stamps focus on the political center and dominant elite (current regime, Khartoum politicians, and Arab and Islamic identity) while Burkina Faso’s stamps focus on society (artists, multiple ethnic groups, and development). Sudan’s stamps build an image of the nation as being about the northern-dominated regime in Khartoum (whether military or parliamentary); Burkina Faso’s stamps project an image of the nation as multi-ethnic and development-oriented.”
Ethnic identity is, of course, a tool in the Sudan government’s repression of Darfur.
The chattering classes are aflutter that the President of Iran yesterday called Israel “a cruel and repressive racist regime” at the UN Conference on Racism. 23 diplomats stormed out, others applauded. While Ahmadinejad has said some pretty outrageous things, in this case I wonder if he saw this latest item in the Israeli daily Haaretz about T-shirt designs Israeli soldiers are ordering for their IDF units. The shirts boast slogans and images of dead Palestinian babies, bombed mosques, jokes about rape, sniping children, killing pregnant women in Hijab, etc. The designs are revealing. This is clearly not a military culture solely preoccupied with defending the integrity of the State.