Can Art Stop a Bullet: William Kelly’s Big Picture
William Kelly, John Keane, Nick Ut, Rama Mani, A. C. Grayling, Martin Sheen
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… an important, highly relevant documentary…
Filmmaker Fernando Solanas once said of his documentary film Memoria del saqueo that, “it aspires to prove that another world is possible.” Mark Street’s documentary film Can Art Stop a Bullet: William Kelly’s Big Picture, aspires to do the same. Or rather, it follows the work of a man – artist, William Kelly – who aspires to do the same.
In simple terms, it’s a documentary about Kelly. But it delves much deeper than that by exploring the relationship between art and activism; or, perhaps more to the point, between art and human consciousness; and subsequently, consciousness and the proclivity of our species to create war and commit acts of violence. It’s about creation versus destruction; it’s about the idea that art can deconstruct cognitive dissonance and transform ignorance and egoism, facilitating a deeper and more empathic view of the world around us.
The film focuses, in episodic increments, on the development of Kelly’s work, titled Peace or War/The Big Picture, which was displayed at the State Library of Victoria in 2016. Kelly’s interactions with people, places and ideas engender new artistic components of The Big Picture and we watch as this conglomerate work expands over time until its completion. Each new visual element of the work is brought to life by the use of a simple, elegant animation style.
Can Art Stop A Bullet was filmed on five continents and features appearances by painter John Keane, photographer Nick Ut, performance artist Rama Mani, philosopher A. C. Grayling, actor Martin Sheen, and many others.
While touching on esoteric and philosophical topics, the film remains clear and easy to understand. This is a film for everyone interested in the future of humanity; everyone who has asked themselves why war and conflict have been perpetually with us throughout recorded history. It’s an important, highly relevant documentary which is a worthy companion to Kelly’s The Big Picture and reminds us that there are people out there – many of them – who care passionately this subject.
Is it naïve to believe that art can potentially impact the actualisation of war and violence? William Kelly certainly doesn’t think so.