"Resistance" is a giant wheat paste public art installation, a world record figure spanning more than 100 meters. An image of a broken AK -47.
Born from a conversation between Ralph Ziman and (anti-arms activist) Terry Crawford-Browne, Resistance is named for War Resisters International, an anti war organization founded in the wake of the First World War. War Resisters has been in existence for almost a century and has branches all around the world. The logo has always been a rifle, broken in half by a pair of hands.
Ziman wanted to update the logo. The gun is now an AK 47, the most destructive weapon in the history of mankind. Invented by Mikhail Kalashnikov just after the Second World War the AK 47 has killed more people than the atom bomb and HIV Aids combined. Some estimates are as high as half a billion people and a majority of them were civilians.
The AK 47 has become an incredibly iconic weapon that is loved, revered and fetishized in Africa in particular, where Ziman installed the first giant wheat paste. They can be found in the hands of criminal gangs in Johannesburg, government thugs in Zimbabwe, bloodthirsty M23 rebels in Congo, Somali pirates off the coast of East Africa and maniacs like Joseph Kony in Uganda.
From South African president Jacob Zuma singing "Lethu Mshiniwam" ("get me my machine gun”) to adoring supporters at political rallies, to Charles Taylor toting an AK 47 in war torn Monrovia, the AK 47 has also become a political emblem -- even Mozambique's flag features a hammer and sickle style symbol with an AK47.
The Resistance gun is wrapped in a combination of world currencies symbolizing the international arms trade, a trade that not only pedals in death but also impoverishes fledgling economies around the world, diverting money that could be used for health care and education and fuelling corruption. 25% of the world's corruption is routed through the arms trade making the international arms trade the largest organized crime syndicate in the world”.
One country often supplies both sides in a conflict, perpetuating a cycle of war and impoverishment. The arms trade is a favored means of corruption, a way for corrupt leaders to pay for weapons with state cash and receive enormous kick backs from weapons dealers. What we see in the west is the cliché image of Africa -- a battle zone, constant conflict, relentless war, faceless child soldiers, rebels, Joseph Kony. We hear the names of far-off countries -- Rwanda, Sudan, Darfur, Angola, Congo, Liberia.
The first of a planned series of installations is situated on The Grand Parade in Cape Town, but Ziman and his team are hoping to put up a giant wheat paste in major cities across the world, aiming to make a big statement and contribute to the awareness of the global arms trade dilemma. Ziman says, “Let this symbolic image be a constant reminder of the world we want to create. Let’s eradicate all weapons and put an end to the arms trade.”
The Resistance Project is born through collaboration and is being supported and strengthened through the various partnerships; The African Arts Institute, Ubuntu Academy, MUTI Films, Wetink, an amazing production team; the overall project is planned and managed by Invisible Sun.