„Silent Laughter“ is a small sculptural reimagining of a playground, constructed from the components of a plastic toy tank.
In 2015, shortly after I had moved to Germany, I came across of photo of a young Syrian boy sitting on the gun shaft of a tank in the midst of the ruins of his city.
This image, which so devastatingly framed the intersection between the brutality of war and the innocence of its civilian casualties, shook me to my core. At the time, in an effort to integrate into German society, I attended a German language class. I was one of the few students, who was not there as a direct result of the Syrian war. The refugee crisis was constantly making global headlines, but it was meeting my classmates, and hearing their stories that suddenly made the context of the newspaper photograph I happened upon very real to me.
The photograph of the young boy, no more than 10 or 12 years old, perching on this tank as if he was on a seesaw, looking out at the ruins of his city before him, symbolised terror and hope in such equal measure. His youth and innocence so displaced, he should have been on a playground, or perhaps he was imaging himself there?
I realised no one is impervious to the horrors of war. My compassion for the boy, compelled me to employ my art to strip the nefarious connotations from the tank, deconstruct it, and rebuild it into a playground.
I ordered a toy tank online, a Tamiya TM35065 35065 model. I took the pieces apart and made a playground. The canon became a seesaw; the body of the tank a ballpit, with white balls to symbolise peace; and finally I added a swing set, so fragile.