The Izmir-Chios mural: intercultural dialogue (2007)
The Izmir-Chios mural, 2007
Initial drawings were made on the huge canvas which was donated by Takuya Kaneda from Kids' Guernica International Committee. The action took place during the Kids' Guernica exhibition in Chios, May 2007. Thomas Economacos coordinated the children. He started by involving them first in talks and some simple initial games to familiarize them with the space the canvas offers.
Izmir in September 2007
Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007
Morning visit to the Izmir University of Economy
Visit to the library of the University with a Greek section - a most welcomed surprise to the Greek guests
Visiting the Department of Interior Architecture and Environmental Design of which Deniz Hasirzi has become in the meantime Head of the Department
First workshop session at the University
At the first workshop Thomas Economacos spoke fore mostly with the students of the university. They were the oldest ones. In the action there took part basically three different age groups: the students, the youth from Chios and the pupils of the TAKEV school. At the later the canvas brought from Chios was rolled out and there the painting action took place. That constellation of three different groups, two of which spoke only Turkish while the third one only Greek, made it into an interesting intercultural encounter at various levels.
Lunch at the university
The action took place at the TAKEV school
Yenikale Mah. Burak Sk. No. 2 (35320) Narlidere – Izmir/Turkey
Director: Gonul Ketenci
The TAKEV school has thanks to its director Gonul Ketenci strong links to Germany. She directs both the primary and high school. There are altogether 200 teachers.
This contact came about thanks to the collaboration on the buddy-program (older students taking care of younger ones) between Deniz Hasirci, Assistant Professor at the Izmir University of Economy (Department of Interior Architecture and Environmental Design) and Gullistan Banu Cel Segi, teacher at the TAKEV school.
Unfolding of the canvas in TAKEV school yard
The action took place over two days. After unfolding the canvas, there followed the games. It is a method Thomas Economacos likes to use. The children relax and get to know each other. Games include playing mirror for the other or stepping onto newspapers as if islands with everyone trying to rescue him- herself from the sharks in the water. As more and more these newspapers - islands - are taken away, everyone must learn to cooperate in order that everyone is rescued and not only oneself flees into safety. These are the beginnings of collaboration.
Deniz Hasirci playing with the children of the TAKEV school recognizable in their yellow school dress
The action on first day
Youth from Chios make the first step
and then it becomes a collaborative process with everyone joining in.
Painting as the common language
On such a surface, given the size of the canvas, everyone can join in
But with the Greek and Turkish flag dominating everywhere at the end of the first day as if to underline reaction and counter reaction as if engaged in a kind of reckless over exertion of nationalist symbols.
The second day saw a transformation of political and nationalist symbols into what they altogether saw as signs of life, including a tree of life surrounded by flowers and in the background a rainbow (this features in many other Kids' Guernica murals as well)
Final group photo
The children and students who participated in the joint Izmir-Chios mural together with coordinators Hatto Fischer, Deniz Hasirci, Effi and Thomas Economacos along with some of the parents of the children from Chios.
Chios-Izmir Joint Painting, May-September, 2007 was exhibited for the first time in public at the ECCM-Network Symposium and The Kids' Guernica Exhibition in 2007 Venue: Zappeion Megaron - Athens - Greece, October 17th - 19th 2007
Members of Kids' Guernica International in front of the mural in Athens.
From left to right: Magnolia Albertazzi, Effie Lipari, Deniz Hasirci, Asit Poddar, Vice Prefecture of Chios Nichtas, Hatto Fischer, Jad Salman, Takuya Kaneda, Savina Tarsitano
Photo by Kostas Kartelias
Overall commentaries and Captions for murals: Hatto Fischer
Photos: Deniz Hasirci, Hatto Fischer, Kostas Kartelias
Final short text by Deniz Hasirci:
The joint painting between Greece and Turkey has great significance as a message from children to the leaders of these two countries. Although the children could not speak a common language, they managed to work together harmoniously and established a strong bond my means of painting. The workshop proved to be a valuable one for all children as well as the adults involved, and will be an experience they will not forget. In 2006, on the Turkish side, before communications with Kids’ Guernica had begun, Assist. Prof. Dr. Deniz Hasirci and Gulistan Banu Cel Sevgi from Izmir University of Economics (IUE) and TAKEV School, respectively, had established a Buddy Program between students of these two schools. This program involves older and younger students being paired and working on specific projects. A collaborative approach which is at the core of Kids’ Guernica, appeared to be very much in line with the program. It is a great honor to be a part of this established group which has turned into a family in the times that followed the workshop in Izmir.
Coincidence brought the Buddy Program and Kids’ Guernica together, and the group started the painting in May, 2007 with children in Chios, and continued it in September, 2007 in Izmir, Turkey. After months of long distance communication, Hatto Fischer-Poiein Kai Prattein, Associated Member of the ECCM-Network, Thomas Economacos-artist, Efi Lipari-Tourist Officer for the Prefecture of Chios, crossed the sea and came to Izmir with 8 children from Chios and met with Deniz Hasirci and Gulistan Banu Cel Sevgi. In Izmir, 2nd and 3rd year students from IUE and 7th, 8th year students from TAKEV were waiting anxiously for the painting which carried opinions, and reflections from the children of Chios. The group first played games led by Thomas Economacos to warm up to one another. The university students and adults enjoyed the games just as much as the children… if not more. After the children opened up the painting to see the ideas that were delivered to them, they diligently worked together for two days to create a painting of peace which was exhibited in Athens in October, 2007.
The workshop proved once again that Kids’ Guernica takes small but effective steps towards communication, understanding, and peace between people and cultures. Aziz Kocaoglu, the Mayor of the Greater Municipality of Izmir supported the project with the following words: “The message that these children help spread will hopefully set an example for all countries. I wish you success in your work, and embrace all of the children who are taking part in this fascinating project”. The experience was a remarkable one for all who were involved, having touched their lives in ways that will undoubtedly be in the background, guiding future thought and actions.
For further contact:
Asst. Prof. Dr. Deniz HASIRCI
Izmir University of Economics,
Faculty of Fine Arts and Design,
Department of Interior Architecture and Environmental Design,
Sakarya Cad. No.156, 35330, Balcova, Izmir, TURKEY
Tel : +90(232) 4888408, Fax : +90(232) 2792626
Web : http://homes.ieu.edu.tr/~dhasirci/, http://denizhasirci.blogspot.com/