Geneva, Switzerland: Tortured Souls and Maimed Victims on the Way to the Red Cross MuseumApril 13, 2009
I like Geneva. What’s not to like about a city that celebrates chocolate, watches, flowers, and Heidi? However, on this visit to attend meetings of the Global Advisory Group on Nursing and Midwifery at the World Health Organization (WHO), I used some of my free time for more serious pursuits as well.
At United Nations Square, just across from the Palais des Nations, a sculpture of a 12-meters-tall straight-back chair with one broken leg looms over one corner of the square. Commissioned by Handicap International, “Broken Chair” (by artist Daniel Berset) is a monument to those who have lost limbs from land mines. It’s a powerful image.
Just off the square and up a small rise is the Musee International de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge (so much better in French than the “International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum”). As you walk up the ramp to the museum entrance, you encounter a group of shrouded, life-size figures by Swiss artist Carl Bucher. The piece, called “The Petrified,” represents the faceless victims of human rights violations. The effect of the figures is sobering—a high school class walking up the ramp, clowning and laughing and chatting loudly, literally stopped in their tracks and fell silent. The teenagers behind them started yelling for them to move on, but then they too quieted down when they came into view of the figures. That tells you something . . .
–Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN editoral director