The Child in You ~ الطفلُ فيك

Isabel del Rio

Photograph taken at Tate Modern by Isabel del Rio


A child visits a Museum and becomes upset when she sees that the painting on the wall is a war scene.  She moves away, thinking that perhaps Art and museums should reflect a different kind of reality, not about war and death, but about innocence and incorruptibility.  A world which is reflected in her own childish drawings, which she would like exhibited on the walls of the museum so that we can begin to celebrate joy and not warfare.

فحوى القصة

تزور طفلة متحفاً وتشعر بالأسى حين ترى اللوحات المعلقة في المتحف هي مناظر حروب. تبتعد قليلاً وتراود الفكرة بالها على أن الفنون والمتاحف يجب أن تعكس حقيقة أخرى غير الحرب والموت. حقيقة البراءة والاخلاق الرفيعة. عن عالم تعكسه برسوماتها الطفولية وتودّ أن تراه معلقاً على جدران المتحف كي نستطيع أن نبدأ بالاحتفاء بالفرح لا الحرب. 


The museum is not really for you, mainly because you cannot understand a painting depicting war, as much as your mother says ‘Look, admire, reflect!’.  I am sorry, you would like to say, I do not want to grow up in a world where there is hostility and conflict at all times and where, to make matters worse, I am then asked to think about it.

No, I do not want to think about that sort of thing.  I look the other way.  I hope it will all go away soon.  I do not want to see the injured and the maimed, the recently dead and the rotting corpses, with some people shooting and others dying.  All these things are not accidents, but self-inflicted solely because you, the adults, want it to be that way.   This is not the world you invited me to.  

I look around and I realise that what this museum is showing is nothing but an apology.  One big apology for the murderers and warmongers amongst us.  For the horrid episodes that humans had to endure over centuries: war and pestilence and injustice… as if placing all that inside these walls could make them better and acceptable.  Best not to prompt any such things, and there would be no need to apologise with such profusion of colours and shapes.

From harsh metal contraptions, to fake smiles, to horrid creatures, to distorted figures, to total misrepresentation.  This museum is a monument to falsity and deviousness and trauma.  Do not give us, children, the images of all that is wrong.  Look, a testament to war and hatred this particular room is.  And yet all other rooms also pay homage to the wretchedness and fear as felt by the artists because they, like me, did not like the world as you have made it and, thus, they resorted to Art in order to, most probably, forgive and forget.

What I would like is a museum where exhibits can be played with, without risk of injury or distress, and are friendly and pleasing.  Where anything agreeable is not there just to conceal the hideous.  Where no money is exchanged for works of Art.  Where artists are not considered exceptional, since we are all artists if given half a chance.  Where nothing extraordinary will be found within these walls, because streets will become museums, and Art will be shown in the city’s squares and underground and buses and parks.  A place where Art has no further value than being what it is, and if it has any value at all it has only the value of providing joy.  A museum where my own colourful drawings celebrating a world without aggression will hang from its walls.  And so perhaps then we could move on from a planet based on greed and hatred and our constant apologies whether through Art or other creative exertions, to a planet where the innocence of us, the children, can become the standard for all things.

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