One Million Bones - Interview with Naomi Natale
2012/06/26
By : Cynthia La Grou
Introduction: One Million Bones is a fundraising art installation designed to recognize the millions of victims killed or displaced by ongoing genocides occurring on our watch. Their mission is to increase global awareness while raising the critical funds needed to protect and aid displaced and vulnerable victims.

One Million Bones will represent victims of genocide, creating a visual demand for solutions to this issue. Ignored and therefore permitted, genocide continues today, while widespread awareness of it remains buried. One million people, an international community of artists, activists, and students, will each create one bone to represent one victim. Installed together, these million bones will flood the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 2013, unearthing the memory of these victims while calling citizens to action: mourning yesterday's casualties, caring for today's refugees, saving tomorrow's people.

During the Rwandan Genocide, National Security Advisor Anthony Lake stated that if the United States government was to support effective action to stop the genocide, the American public must make it clear that is what they want. He encouraged human-rights advocates to "make more noise", thus helping to change public opinion. But little noise was made, and the international community stood still while the massacres continued. One Million Bones intends to make noise: one million voices shouting for our government to stop genocide.

Compathos: Naomi, I loved your inspiring TED talks about the One Million Bones art instillation and the Cradles Project. As an artist, I very much resonate with your vision and am also passionate about creating movement through visual arts to inspire action, participation and global citizenry. Similarly, our stories and media projects hope to target interlocking themes such as extreme poverty, gender equality, the global orphan crisis, and trafficking.

Naomi Natale: What a delight hear from you! I was directed to Compathos earlier this year and I was excited to connect at TED but with the tight schedule it was hard to sincerely connect and find out more. But I absolutely love Compathos, I love the heart and and mission behind it as I've attempted to make my projects out of the same heart and mission. I also just want to say that I think your website is stunning and I really appreciate the detail to visuals that you incorporate into Campathos.

Compathos: As one whose radar is always up for creative solutions to some of the seemingly insurmountable problems humanity is facing, observing the various approaches that people apply to complex issues is a fascinating study. I've seen incredibly innovative ideas and applications for micro-finance, technology, design, medicine, education, and the environment. But often, there seems to be an overlooked or missing human link between the benefactor and beneficiary.

Naomi Natale: I completely agree about the missing link between the benefactor and beneficiary. In fact one of my favorite quotes is from the movie, The Thin Red Line, which states "If I never meet you in this life, then let me a lack". I wholeheartedly believe that if we as benefactor's could tune in to that lack, connect that link, then I believe that we as a human race could solve so many problems. I believe that compassion and empathy would come easy. And understanding and awareness would come easier. In my projects I have tried to use tangible symbols to create a space in our hearts for realizing that lack, and acting through it.

Compathos: I am interested in how, you as an artist, will measure impact from this campaign to show its effectiveness for investors of similar future campaigns.

Naomi Natale: A project combining the power inherent in art, social activism and politics will have an impact on different levels: personal, social and political. Ultimately, the impact will be to create a movement of one million people connected to the issue of genocide, each other, organizations that work everyday to address the issue and politicians who have the ability to effect change.

Through these connections individuals will raise funds that will help provide for victims; the partner organizations will increase the visibility of their work as well as the effectiveness of the networks and linkages among themselves and their supporters. And because of all these connections, we expect to see movement on the U.S. political front aimed at creating policies that will end ongoing genocides and generate the political will necessary to defuse situations that have the potential to develop into genocides elsewhere.
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