As a result of several years of conflict, Angola is one of the countries with the largest number of landmines in the world, with about six million mines still undetonated. These devices kill over ten people a day and have already mutilated about 70 000 citizens, keeping Angola's people from going on with their lives in a normal way. To support these victims, Norwegian artist Morten Traavik suggested a beauty pageant.
Morten Traavik visited several rehabilitation centers, looking for candidates for the Miss Landmine competition, under the slogan "We all have the right to be beautiful". Traavik says the project is a mixture of art and humanitarian mission and has already recieved a big subcidy from the Norwegian Art Council.
In his press release, Morten Traavik calls the attention to a few goals, among them, the local and global awareness of the problem of landmines, the questioning of prescibed standards of physical perfection, the celebration of true beauty and the substitution of the word 'victim' for the waord 'survivor'.
Several people have already spoken out on this subject, accusing Traavik of exploring African women in a repulsive way. Some even said that the money raised for the competition could have been used in a different way, to enrich the quality of life of the victims, instead.
Regardless of the goals behind this initiative, I am not sure to what extent these are the true intentions of the people organizing it. Unfortunately, more often than not, noble causes of great social impact are supported purely for self-promotion purposes. Risking being unfair, I can't help thinking such is the case.
More information at the Miss Landmine website, which opens with an excerpt from Zarathustra by Strauss. Could this be an odyssey?