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LINES OF VIOLATION (article first published : 2001-08-12)

Running at the Durban Art Gallery from August 9 to September 9 is an exhibition titled Lines of Violation, Comfort Women Survivors.

This is a plexiglass installation depicting the hands of 52 former “comfort women” from the Philippines, Taiwan, Korea and Holland. These women were victims of the Japanese military policy of forcing young women in occupied territories during World War II into sexual slavery.

The story of these women was hidden from the world for 50 years before a Korean woman broke her silence. Since then many women have come forward and told their stories of violation. Andrew Ward and IFOR UN Representative Jonathan Sisson travelled to Taiwan, Korea and the Philippines to meet the women survivors. Fifty two women agreed to have their hands drawn by Andrew and have him record their stories.

The installation is made up of the drawings of their hands and recordings of the women telling their stories. Their voices tell of their experiences, not only as victims 50 years ago but also of their hopes and aspirations as aged women today who have attempted to regain their honour and dignity through the campaign for restitution from the Japanese government.

Ward says "My work does not hang on causes, campaigns or human rights but through my art if I can shine a light into those dark corners...where of course we don`t want to look, but without remembering there will be no changing, and if there is no changing there will be no forgiving. We need new stories to change the world, we can no longer say we don`t care, so through my work I'd like to be part of this change...to care...and to tell new stories...or old stories in new ways!"

The installation had its premier at The Hague Appeal for Peace Conference in May, 1999. More recently it has been exhibited in Metro Manila and at the District Six Museum in Cape Town. The installation will be opened on 9 August, National Women's Day and will stay on view during the World Conference Against Racism, where after it will be travelling to Bangalore, India and Thailand.




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