What if cities that have endured horrendous, wartime bombings could experience a different sort of “bombing”–one that would bolster the morale of its citizens, instead of breaking it?
In my introductory article on street art, I discussed yarn bombing, a new type of graffiti art that is being championed by artists like Olek and Jessie Hemmons. This week I came across two different art projects inspired by the idea of poetry bombing. The idea was new to me, so I was intrigued.
Since 2001 the Chilean art collective Casagrande has been staging “Poetry Rain” projects in cities like Warsaw, Berlin, Santiago de Chile, Dubrovnik, and Guernica–all cities that have suffered aerial bombings in their history. The most recent event took place in Berlin in 2010 and was part of the Long Night of Museums. Crowds of thousands gathered in the city’s Lustgarten as 100,000 poems rained down from the sky.
The poems, which were dropped from the helicopter by Casagrande, included work by 80 German and Chilean poets, including Ann Cotten, Karin Fellner, Nora Gomringer, Andrea Heuser, Orsolya Kalász, Björn Kuhligk, Marion Poschmann, Arne Rautenberg, Monika Rinck, Hendrik Rost, Ulrike Almut Sandig, Tom Schulz, Thien Tran, Anja Utler, Jan Wagner, Ron Winkler and Uljana Wolf.
Casagrande says that these poetry bombings are intended as a protest against war. (The Berlin event was also a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the independence of Chile). As the members of Casagrande told the Guardian, “wartime bombings were intended to ‘break the morale’ of the inhabitants of a city, so the poetry bombing ‘builds’ a new city by giving new meaning to events of her tragic past and therefore presenting the city in a whole new original way.’”
I loved watching this video of Casagrande’s poetry drop in Berlin. There is so much excitement and joy on the faces of the people gathered in the city’s Lustgarten. To renew a sense of child-like wonder through the experience of art, is a true gift to the citizens of Berlin. (If you are reading this article in an email, click here to watch the video).
While Casagrande’s poetry bombing events happen on a grand scale and require a great deal of planning and organization, the poetry bombing of artist Agustina Woodgate is a true guerrilla art project.
As part of the “O, Miami” poetry festival, Woodgate spent a month secretly sewing the poems of Sylvia Plath and Li Po into pants, dresses, and jackets in thrift stores around the country. She created the project to make poetry more accessible and to give customers an extra gift with their purchases.
Woodgate has become quite skilled at lurking in the aisles of thrift stores and says that she has rarely been caught. This video shows her poetry bombing project in action at Flamingo Plaza in Hialeah.
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