FROM WEAPONS OF
WAR TO WORKS OF ART
Copyright 2004 www.tombraiderchronicles.com
[ February 21st 2004 ]
"swords to ploughshares". A group of ambitious
young Cambodians are turning guns and rocket launchers
into works of art. Working almost exclusively
in the unusual medium of the AK-47 rifle, 21 art
students, who three months ago had only ever sculpted
in clay, have already turned out an array of metallic
birds and beasts worthy of any modern art gallery.
in part by Oscar-winning actresses Angelina Jolie
and Emma Thompson, as well as the European Union,
sculptures from the "Peace of Art Project" are
set to be displayed eventually at the United Nations
in New York and EU headquarters in Brussels. "It's
certainly not easy and can even be dangerous.
We can't afford to get careless because we are
using heavy-duty equipment," says Touun Tourneakea,
26, deftly putting the finishing touches to his
"AK-47 bicycle" with an angle-grinder.
him in the workshop, an old warehouse on the outskirts
of the impoverished southeast Asian nation's capital,
an incessant banging and crashing rings out as
the rusting old weapons are heated, bashed and
ground into shape. For most of the students, all
of them from Phnom Penh's Royal University of
Fine Arts, fashioning rifles, rocket launchers
and heavy machine guns in forges and over anvils
is an artistic dream come true. For the project's
founders and backers, it is a golden chance to
promote a more peaceful, weapons-free society.