broken chair

Have you visited Geneva’s Broken Chair?


The Broken Chair sculpture is one of the most visited sites in Geneva, Switzerland. The city is home to multiple humanitarian organizations, from the United Nations to the World Health Organization.

Because I am concerned about what I see happening around the world, I trekked from Cornavin station to the United Nations complex to visit the Broken Chair. The all-wood sculpture encourages the United Nations to pass stricter sanctions on countries using land mines. It acts as a visceral reminder to United Nations officials across the street.

broken chair

Flags at the United Nations entrance in Geneva.

Aren’t the flags a colorful juxtaposition?

broken chair

The broken chair at the United Nations is often a rallying place for groups seeking to make a point.

The afternoon I visited, Moroccans protested the UN’s position on the Western Sahara desert in a dispute with Algiers. The chair is often a rallying place for groups seeking to make a point. Since 1997, the sculpture has given voice to thousands of groups who’ve made the pilgrimage to Geneva to make various points.

Initially intended as a temporary exhibit, the chair garnered enough public support to remain a symbol to underrepresented groups around the world. It was removed for repairs and reinstalled on the Place des Nations in 2007.

What do you think of sites like the Broken Chair?

Do you believe such artistic symbols encourage people to rally around causes that matter to them? Or do you think they’re another example of symbolism over substance?

Do you think politicians often heed artistic expressions when making policy? Or do you believe they’re more beholden to money?


P.S. Wondering what I’m doing in Switzerland? I’m at The Trelex Residency in Maison Binet!

The book I’m working on now is a sequel to the others in the Nowhere Series so if you haven’t read the first two – go get them now!

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