mardi, mai 24, 2011

Veterans

When the British WW1 Veteran Claude Choules died at the age of 110 on May 5 2011, many medias reported that there are now no WW1 survivors on earth anymore. Well, we can't know this exactly, there may be an unknown survivor somewhere. However, with the departing of the last verified veterans, WW1 definitely becomes history for good.
It's a bit an odd feeling for me. As some of you know, I spent over 20 years dedicating my art to the subject of WW1.
When I started in the middle of the Eighties, there were still a lot of Veterans to be found. Not masses of course, but they were there. I met some of them, in order to listen to their stories and hence get a feeling for these times and what they went trough.

Some Veterans in Asylums didn't talk at all. Not because they couldn't, because they didn't want to. According to their relatives, they were silent since they came back from war. A permanent, silent protest against the world they lived in, until their end.

I think we are mostly not aware of the amount of horror the gigantic killing beared. Nowadays, we open trials and political debates over weeks if one presumed civilian is accidentally killed in a NATO Operation. Back then, hundred thousands were killed within one single day during the trench-war and it was seen as the normal ongoing of the war.
I don't think that the world has become more cruel, on the contrary. All in all, it has become more civilized.
The warriors of WW1 had a great influence on me and my art, as well as on my inner life. I had my first really deep spiritual experience when I was in Verdun. And still, even now that I'm mostly doing Kennedy-stuff, the Poilus and Germans remain close to my heart.

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