Target: Massoud Hassani
Goal: Commend artist for bringing attention to the deadly issue of land mines in a creative manner
The “Mine Kafon” was created by Afghani artist Massoud Hassani to clear mines in the deserts outside of Kabul, Afghanistan where he grew up. Imagine a dandelion puff, before the wish is made and breath blows the feathery, white fruits away. That is the shape of the Mine Kafon. It is a large sphere, comprised of radial bamboo spokes extending in all directions, each spoke mounted with a disk of biodegradable plastic. At only two hundred pounds, the Mine Kafon is light enough to be blown by the wind, but heavy enough to trigger a mine, detonating itself and the mine at the same time. Because of the light, segmented construction of the Mine Kafon, one can theoretically endure several explosions before being unable to roll on.
Landmines are a global plague. According to Unicef, there are estimated to be 110 million landmines in 64 different countries, a deadly, lingering legacy of the numerous wars our world has been subject to. Since 1975, more than one million people have been killed or wounded by landmines. While adults frequently survive a blast, they are significantly more lethal to children. Afghanistan, along with Angola and Cambodia, is one of the nations most devastated by landmines. There are estimated to be 10 million land mines, on paper, with another 10 to 20 million that have never been documented.
Landmine removal is typically a costly, laborious affair. Whereas it costs less than $3 to produce a landmine, it can cost upwards of $1000 to clear one. Hassani’s aesthetically beautiful, whimsical, giant rovers, rolling through minefields and saving a life with each mine detonated, are also cheap. It costs about $20 to make a Mine Kafon.
The inspiration for the Mine Kafon came when Hassani was a young boy, growing up in Qasaba, Kabul. He and his brother used to construct small, wind-powered rolling toys that they would race against one another’s. Often these toys, driven by the strong winds, would roll into forbidden minefields, areas too dangerous for retrieval. Twenty years later, Hassani returned to his hometown, designing a larger version of his toys as a graduation project for the Design Academy Eindhoven. Recently, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City opened an exhibit called Applied Design that showcases Hassani’s unique and innovative creation.
Commend Hassani for bringing attention to a global issue and help support his efforts. You can learn more about the Mine Kafon at minekafon.blogspot.com.
Dear Massoud Hassani,
Your “Mine Kafon” is truly a work of art that not only presents a whimsical aesthetic, but also serves a useful, life-saving purpose: clearing landmines cheaply and without risk. As you are well aware, landmines are a deadly legacy left behind by countless wars our modern world has suffered. A Khmer Rouge general once described them as the perfect solder: “Ever courageous, never sleeps, never misses.”
Sadly, they are also indiscriminate killers, and remain active for decades after they have been buried and forgotten. They kill and maim too many around the world, from Afghanistan to Cambodia. And while mines are cheap to produce – less than $3 US – they are far more expensive to remove, and hazardous to boot. Therein lies part of the genius behind your creations. The Mine Kafon is cheap and made of biodegradable materials.
Thank you for bringing attention to a largely neglected global issue through a combination of art, innovation, and practicality.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jerryscuba via Wikimedia Commons