Monopoly Money for Starving Children

 NA01143A.gif (987 bytes) Photos of the Pillar of Shame 

When the Starvation Summit is over, the 27 November, there will be notes similar to monopoly money lying around Rome. Each 'value-note' symbolises a coloured child dying of starvation and miserable life conditions. When the notes are treated carelessly they become a symbol of our contempt for life: the coloured child's life is obviously not worth the paper the 'value-notes' are printed on. We treat life with the same indifference as we use paper and then throw it away.

The UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO, are holding a summit in Rome 13-17 November. There will meet representatives from the world's governments to discuss what should be done about the world's catastrophic food problem. The situation is alarming; the world will see a famine catastrophe of unseen dimensions, maybe already within the coming decade, if governments do not bother themselves to take the situation seriously. It is on this gruesome basis that FAO's summit is being called the Starvation Summit.

FAO's summit is very significant. The first condition for a change must be a global discussion about the problems. These are problems which deal with life and death. The summit's decisions are of ultimate importance as to how many people will starve to death the coming years.


2 Million 'Value-notes' around Rome

We are a group of 25 people from Denmark who have come to Rome to share out 2 million 'value-notes' which look like monopoly money. There are 60 different notes with printed pictures of starving children and a text written in English and Danish which explains the intention behind this happening. The texts set focus on the uneven way in which we share the goods of this world, (25% of the world's population have 85% of the world's income).

We share out the notes to spotlight that the summit is about human corpses and that it is especially up to us in the wealthy world to decide how many people will die of starvation. Do we decide to give our greediness a free hand so we continue to increase our absurd excess of consumption, or will we set in the abundant resources we have to achieve a better world balance?

Inviolability of Human Life?

Actually it should be satisfactory that the key to the hunger problem lies in the hands of the wealthy nations. It is exactly this part of the world which in its own understanding represents civilisation's highest level and which builds on noble ethical principals that human life is sacred and inviolable. But anyway we allow every other second a child to die of starvation or an easily curable sickness. The most of these children are coloured and live in the world's poorest countries. So one is lead to think that it is only the wealthy whiteman's life which is sacred and inviolable.

The Silent Death

The 2 million 'value-notes' we share out in Rome are some which we have left over from the art happening, The Silent Death, which we carried out during the UN's Social Summit in Copenhagen in '95. We had printed 13 million value-notes, one for each child that will die from starvation or sickness during one year. Together with about 100 volunteers we chained 750 cloth dolls, filled with sand, (15 tons in all), to benches, lampposts, etc. They symbolised the 35,000 children that die every day of starvation or lack of medicin.

The Pillar of Shame in Rome

At the same time that we share out the 2 million value-notes we will present a 7 metre high copper sculpture which will be used for a world-wide art happening. The project begins in '97 and will run for the next 10 years. The sculpture will be presented in Rome in front of the NGO forum, Ostiense Air Terminal. It will be an artistic expression of the pain and the victims, which the uneven sharing of the world's resources bring.

More about the pillar of shame | To the Pillar of Shame main index

Relevant documents
  • Photos of the Pillar of Shame in Rome, 1996 to the  version of this document  
  • The Silent Death - a happening at the UN Social Summit, Copenhagen 1995 to the  version of this document  
  • The Silent Death 5 years later - at the UN Social Summit, Geneva 2000 to the  version of this document  
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    1996: The Pillar of Shame in Rome - at the FAO Summit
    Additional Information:
    Categories: 1996: The Pillar of Shame in Rome - at the FAO Summit | Happenings and Art Installations | 1996-?: The Pillar of Shame
    Themes: Children´s rights | Hunger and malnutrition | Money as symbol
    Sculptures: Civilization, OMEP | Pillar of Shame
    Type: Press releases
    Dates: 1996
    Locations: Ostiense Air Terminal, Rome, Italy | Villagio Globale, Rome, Italy
    Co-operators and Helpers: Claudio Cifuentes | Hunger Gathering 1996, Villagio Globale, Rome, Italy | John Bonnesen Wolff | Kasper Markus | Krakagården | Maj Frost | Martin Liljendal | Niller Madsen | Preben Christensen | Rebekka Andreasen, Fyens Stiftstidende | Robert Etches | Silvie Cifuentes | Theodor Lyngby | Troels Gelting
    Partners: FAO NGO Forum, Rome, 1996
    Related Persons and Entities: FAO | Mayor of Rome, 1996 | Police of Rome
    Sponsors: BUPL | DeTrey Dentsply AG, Schweiz | Fredsfonden | Funch Fonden | Gelsted/Kirk/Scherfig fonden | Kultursekretariatet i Odense Kommune | Lysgaard Fonden | Socialpædagogernes Landsforbund / National Federation of Social Educators | Socialpædagogernes Landsforbund i Vejle | Vedstaarup Lerfabrik A/S