Saturday, March 03, 2012

Banksy's Lipstick Creation

Some readers of this blog may already know this story and this artwork, but it was new to me this week.

This past Tuesday morning, one of the students in the formation group that meets at my house brought in a chapter about God wearing lipstick from Rob Bell's Book, Sex God (ASIN: B000NW11QC). In the chapter, which stressed the key importance of reverencing the image of God in humanity, Bell recounts a diary-extract from a certain Lieutenant Colonel Mervin Willett Gonin DSO. The entry contains the story about the odd grace of the arrival of lipstick at a liberated German concentration camp. Gonin, who was among the first British soldiers to liberate Bergen-Belsen in 1945, wrote as follows:

“It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things and I don't know who asked for lipstick. I wish so much that I could discover who did it, it was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the post mortem table and clutched in her hand was a piece of lipstick. At last someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.”

A student in formation group mentioned the artistic creation of Banksy based on the selfsame diary entry. I tracked down an image of Banksy's work:


Anonymous Sharon said...

Never heard this story before- but I understand how this simple cosmetic could bring so much to people who had endured through the camps.

Sun Mar 18, 07:54:00 AM GMT-5  

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