Adopting the iconic image of the Russian doll, this drawing was made as a memorial to women and young girls who were/are the victims of violence during war. A Russian Doll painted with the tranquil scene of Ivan Shishkin’s ‘Morning in a Pine Forest’, 1889, one of Russia’s most popular paintings, is layered with the image of Russian soldiers fighting in the Battle of Stalingrad during WWII. Now a well documented fact, graphically conveyed in such writings as Anthony Beevor’s ‘Berlin: The Downfall 1945’ 2002, this piece represents the genocidal rape perpetrated by the Red Army as it surged towards Berlin. The novelist Vasily Grossman, a front line war correspondent with the Red Army, dismayed at the mass rape committed by so many Russian soldiers on not only German women but liberated Polish and Russian women wrote,
“Horror in the eyes of women and girls” (‘A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945’).
The consequences of such violations often resulted/result in suicide, unwanted pregnancies and lifelong psychological and physical scars. By layering a self-portrait as part of the Russian Doll’s face, thus bridging awareness between statics and reality, this representation suggests that during war violence is indiscriminate and targets females of all ages and backgrounds. Often a strategic weapon of war that has been used in conflicts since records began, it is still common today, recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo and with many incidents of rape being reported in the current conflict in Iraq. At the very edge of the drawing appear the legs of a young girl, a reminder of the very young victims of war rape.
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