Making a past period of hunger relevant to the present
Responding to this year’s World Food Day theme ‘Our actions are our future’, the museum chose one of Kollwitz’s most famous works Deutschlands Kinder Hungern! (Germany’s Children are Starving!), which was made in 1923 for the Workers International Relief. Depicting hungry children holding up their bowls, their large hollow eyes eagerly seeking ways to relieve their hunger, Kollwitz sought to draw attention to the devastating hardships experienced in Germany after the First World War.
In showcasing the vulnerable position of children in times of deprivation, the museum’s Instagram post emphasized that Kollwitz’s drawing is highly relevant for today’s world, in which ‘every thirteen minutes a child under the age of 5 dies as a result of acute malnutrition’. In this way, memories of hunger related to WWI intersect and resonate with current-day issues of food scarcity across the globe.
The renewed engagement with German hunger memories illustrates that a hunger period from almost a hundred years ago still plays a role in the present. Through using the image, the museum draws attention to its collection; more importantly, however, the present power of the drawing historicizes contemporary children’s suffering. Through this process, modern hunger becomes embedded in a long-term perspective on continued scarcity.