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Mozambican artist transforms guns into sculpture

BY SARAH BERMAN AND SARAH FELDBLOOM, TORONTO STAR ONLINE

At the world-renowned artist studio Núcleo de Arte in Maputo, Mozambican artist Fiel dos Santos recalls a childhood robbed by military struggle.

“I grew up in civil war,” says Santos, who was 5 years old when his country became embroiled in a conflict that would last 16 years. “In my area the rebels were coming two times a week, every month, every day — but I’m here.”

In this video by Journalists for Human Rights reporters Sarah Berman and Sarah Feldbloom, Santos destroys weapons leftover from Mozambique’s civil war, and welds them into mixed-media sculptures. His artwork is part of a larger project called Transformaçaõ de Armas em Enxadas (Transforming Arms into Tools), which has amassed a collection of over 700,000 illegal weapons since 1995.

“I continue this project because it’s my contribution, my social contribution,” says Santos. “Transforming guns is transforming minds.”

Later this year, Fiel will be releasing a stop-motion animated short using metal sculptures created from decommissioned arms. The 17-minute doc Little Fiel will tell the story of Fiel’s youth, growing up with two brothers fighting on opposing sides of Mozambique’s civil war.

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