Sometimes, in life and in art, a seemingly minor gesture can become a major act of defiance. A famous German photograph from 1936 shows one man refusing to participate in giving the nazi salute, instead choosing to cross his arms, underlining how small choices can, at certain times, take an enormous amount of courage. I was reminded of this powerful image when discovering another one with this piece by Barcelona based digital artist Roman Shestakov aka Roshcov. Aptly called The Bravest this piece combines both an ironic humor with the spirit of non-violent resistance. The photo manipulation underlines the beauty of these rebellious acts, where indeed ‘the bravest’ sometimes choose not to stay silent when great injustices are being done. It poses the question on what we all would do when being placed in a similar situation, one that has hit home again for a lot of people around the world these days.
The beauty of art is that sometimes it holds a mirror in front of us and makes us question our own moral judgements in life. The piece also shows us something about the beauty of non-verbal communication and how the raised middle finger has become one of the prime expressions against the status quo. What I really enjoy in Roshcov’s work is how he inventively is able to use his photoshop skills to probe deeper into the human condition and playfully explore an often darker side of societal issues. But ‘The Bravest’ I find particularly inspirational, because of the simplicity in which it can convey such a powerful message in both a funny and profound way. I hope this can inspire you to rebel against unjust systems and I leave you with the words of the great writer and holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel: ‘Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.’ So don’t stay silent.