Upon my routine scrolling through Pinterest, before the day starts running underneath my slippered toes, I came across an image that reconstructed my face into a look of disbelief. Now this wasn’t disbelief with undertones of horror, or disgust, or omgcanIbuyit, but simply awe. An architectural masterpiece in its simplicity. And yet as I delved further into the story behind this single image, it very quickly becomes something to be marveled at because of the layers upon layers of complexity underneath this minimalism.
Am I overreacting here? A cube jutting out of a cliff, big whoop (aside from the fact that these cliffs are among the most majestic in the world, but hey, maybe that’s just me). Here’s a hint as to why it still deserves a jaw-drop, or a silent approving nod of the head, or even a standing ovation.
You got it. An underground museum dedicated to the remembrance and honouring of the role women play in war.
If you don’t happen to have a small set of skills devoted to reading the near future, that would have been hard to guess. But I think there’s a sense of appreciation to a piece of art that you can’t simply look at and understand in a moment. “War. Women. Peace.” comes alive underground, whereby visitors are able to feel, if only a sliver, of the horrors they are thrust into and the bravery they are forced to manifest.
The exhibit takes the visitor through four stages: past, present, remembrance, and reflection. It seems as though the artist wants to envelop visitors in a new understanding of not only the pains inflicted upon women during war, but the position of courage that is often forgotten when we first address war.
Here is perhaps the most magical part to me. And forgive me for such word choice, as I know “magic” should rarely be associated with something in the magnitude of war. In the context of this museum, the Reflection and Remembrance stage takes you on a path to the at-first-glance minimalistic cube peeking out from underneath the Yorkshire cliffs. Water flows overtop of you, perhaps taking you to a place of reflection and remembrance in the most natural way possible as the waters above you unite with the waters you see before you.
Outside of the context of the museum, if this were to be, say, a house, or a store (which would by no means serve as beautiful of a purpose as we see now), I think “magic” is a fitting word. Because not only have we taken every child’s dream of the ultimate hidden fort and made it into a (multimillion dollar) reality, but its views can make you feel as though you are not a nineteen year old living in a six-person student home, but Superman’s right-wing (wo)man taking a quick survey of her backyard.