12,235 tin soldiers

On display at this year’s Istanbul Art Biennale 2011, an event on par with Venice and São Paulo (or so says The Guardian – someone needs to send me there so I can judge for myself!), is this sensational, politically-charged installation by Kuwaiti artist, Ala Younis. Younis neatly arranged a total of 12,235 toy tin soldiers hand-painted in the military uniforms of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey, and organized them in groupings proportional to the number of active troops in each of those countries. It’s visual stimulation overload, to be sure, but more importantly it’s a complex critique of the military as a tool of protection (as we saw in Egypt earlier this year) as opposed to the military as violent oppressors (as in Syria, currently).