Sunday, November 12, 2017

MMFA 2017: Wool War One

An army of 780 small woollen soldiers in memory of the victims of the war and an ode to peace.
By artist Délit Maille 

November 11, 2017 - January 7, 2018

The installation opened on November 11, at the occasion of Remembrance Day. It pays tribute to the victims of the World War One (1914-1918) and commemorates the centennial anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. With this exhibition, the MMFA joins in solidarity to launch a message of peace.

Wool War One highlights the fragile destiny of the World War One participants and soldiers in general. It represents a battalion of 780 small soldiers knitted by five hundred volunteers from around the world. These small figurines, hurled together in marching rows, show how vulnerable and unprotected were the young men enlisted into this brutal war by the world powers that had no regard for their lives. All from different countries, yet they march together, even though they were killing each other on opposite sides of battlefields, being all equally heroes and victims of a war they did not create nor wished for. 

This installation is part of the MMFA's Year of Peace, a vast program of activities and exhibitions that began in November 2016 with the inauguration of the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace. The installation was conceived by the MMFA museum in collaboration with Atout France – the France Tourism Development Agency – and the First World War Centenary Partnership Programme. 

Wool War One: A 1,000-Hand Project
The idea of Wool War One emerged in 2013 when Délit Maille was asked by La Piscine, Musée d’art et d’industrie André Diligent, in Roubaix, to create a work for the centenary of the Great War. Wool War One took form after a visit to one of the immense military cemeteries in Northern France, where she noted names and ages of the fallen soldiers. She then launched a public appeal to make the 15 cm high soldiers. In just a few days, 499 women and one man volunteered to knit for the project. They were all ages, from all continents (just as in 1914 the soldiers came from all the continents).

Délit Maille assembled a 18 metre long army of little soldiers who render a silent vigil to the millions of lives shattered by this global conflict. The 780 soldiers are dressed in uniforms of nineteen countries that were engaged in the conflict; allies and enemies. They echo the Tricot National movement instituted in France at the outset of the war by French President Raymond Poincaré, who encouraged women to knit warm clothes for their brothers, sons, husbands or countrymen at the front.

Canadians Present in the Woollen Army
Newly arrived in Montreal, the woollen soldiers of Wool War One are grouped by nationality, with the French contingent being the most numerous. There are only 5 Canadian soldiers in this knitted army, although they were proportionately quite numerous and played a major role during the First World War when they succeeded in taking Vimy Ridge in 1917. They attacked a position that was already considered a graveyard, as the previous French attacks had all been driven off. Vimy became a symbol of sacrifice of Canadian soldiers, where 11,285 of them are buried. In the photo below, the line of 5 Canadian soldiers in khaki-beige uniforms.

This installation is on view in Atrium Moses Deitcher, at the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace – Level 2. 

Click on images to enlarge them.
Hover you mouse over images for description  and credits.

For more information about the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts exhibitions and activities, visit the museum's website.

No comments: