Machete Season

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Metal frame, magnets and authentic Rwandan and Ugandan machetes. 120x80cm (series of 5)
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Detail: Machete Season (series of 5)
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Detail: Machete Season (series of 5)

When I was in Uganda in 2017 I got confronted with the Rwandan genocide that took place in 1994. I was particularly shocked by the fact that this conflict could erupt so quickly and easily. Between 400.000 and 800.000 people were killed over the course of 100 days.

Machete Season is about the easiness and accessibility of violence. With this series I want to emphasise that no matter how civilised we think we are, violence and aggressiveness are always lurking around the corner. We should always be aware of this, because those who do not remember history are bound to make the same mistakes again.

I visualised this in these sculptures in two ways. First of all, I made the frames similar to that of toy model airplane kits. Where you simply click each part out of the frame and you’re ready to go. On top of that I used magnets to attach the machetes to the steel frame. So you can simply grab a machete out of the frame. Just like it was that easy to grab a machete from your house and start killing, back in 1994. All of a sudden this piece of art could change into a lethal weapon. You could be a victim, you could even turn into an aggressor.

To make these sculptures I went to Rwanda and Uganda myself to collect the machetes. Each time we bought a bunch of new ones and we started driving around the countryside to exchange new machetes for used ones.

The machete, a popular household tool, was the weapon of choice to kill ‘the cockroaches’: the name that was given to the Tutsi (and also Hutu) people.

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