Over the last several weeks, WAR-TOYS has received a growing amount of international press, from the US and France to Hungary and Hong Kong. Photos and children's drawings from the project have been published, blogged, and reblogged more times than I can count. I'm grateful that the work is being so well received by such a diverse audience.
A piece by the Huffington Post gave me pause yesterday. A few publications have been a little fast and loose with the facts, one even making up location captions for the photos, but I had yet to see the work placed in an overtly wacky, off-beat context. Seeing WAR-TOYS in HuffPost's "Weird News" section, alongside such journalistic gems as "Grandma Accused of Calling 911 To Ask For Beer" and "Yep, That's a Two-Headed Calf," initially felt like a kick in gut.
I spent a few self-indulgent minutes feeling like the children's suffering had been trivialized and turned into entertainment while my Art (with a capital "A") was being marginalized. It was pure ego.
While I want my work respected and appreciated as Art (again note the captial "A"), that's not the point of this project. In many ways, it was designed to sneak around people's defenses and present the realities of war in a more digestible way - through a playful filter. War is so beyond the realm of normal human existence that it's nearly impossible to process directly, even for those that have experienced it firsthand. If WAR-TOYS is viewed as entertainment and spread as such, then perhaps that is real success. It's the spoonful of sugar that helps these very scary ideas go down and get internalized. Once inside, I hope they invoke new ways of thinking, at least a little.
My huge thanks to the media and independent bloggers that continue to spread the work! I look forward to sharing more as the project expands into other areas of conflict.