A sea of blue UNICEF backpacks has taken over the lawn of the United Nations Sculpture Garden in Manhattan. The moving installation is a comment on the loss of young life throughout the world. The more than 3,700 backpacks are set up in rows like gravestones and represent the thousands of children who have died in conflict zones in 2018.

The backpacks set up on the north lawn outside the United Nations by UNICEF were placed in remembrance of the 12,000 children who were killed or maimed last year in conflict zones, such as Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, according to a United Nations report released in July. UNICEF estimates that a quarter of these incidences were deaths. The installation is part of UNICEF’s larger #ENDViolence campaign.

September marks the back to school season and in many school around the world there are children who will not be returning to the classroom. It is a subversive take on the hope and youthful playfulness backpacks usually represent. The installation is meant to send a message to the world’s leaders who will be convening at the UN General Assembly two weeks from now. The Assembly will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said in a statement, “This installation should remind them of the stakes.”

You can see the installation on the lawn of the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan’s Upper East Side through Tuesday, September 10th. When the backpacks are removed from the site they will go on to support UNICEF’s childhood education initiatives.

The United Nations Sculpture Garden is home to gifts from countries around the world, and includes a piece of the Berlin Wall gifted by Germany.

Next, check out 20 New Public Art Installations Not to Miss This September 2019

 art installation, manhattan, United Nations

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