Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

The cultural dimension of peace 2011

If Europe as political project is a fiction, but a necessary one, then what contribution to peace can be expected from a European perspective and standpoint?

Reflections of experiences made in and through Kids' Guernica at the one day conference

Kids' Guernica and European Capitals of Culture: the Cultural Dimension of Peace held in Gent, 18th Feb. 2011






          Nagasaki mural: Rebuilding the city after the bomb


- Nepal, Afghanistan, India:

In all three regions very different perspectives exist to reflect upon experiences made to war having become more of a civil war. This is especially the case once outside forces wage a war to control the territory, and they do it by exploiting and enhancing internal tensions between different ethnical, religious and cultural groups. The question remains but how to reconcile all these huge differences while struggling to realise democracy based on true human values?

- War, conflict and contradictions in the Middle East e.g. Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Dubai


         Haifa mural


- War as perceived in Europe after 1945


                 The war is over (2005)


- South Korea in tension with North Korea

Letter from: Jeonghyo Kim [mailto:jk06j@fsu.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 2010 4:22 AM
To: Tom Anderson; Kguernica@aol.com; abe4211@me.com; hfischer@poieinkaiprattein.org
Subject: Re: Guernica Project (Jeonghyo Kim)

Dear Dr. Anderson, Prof.Kaneda, Prof. Toshihumi, and Prof. Hatto,

I would like to send you the photos of Korean students' peace mural.

I asked the students to write their feeling and thinking after finishing the project.

These days Korean people feel fear after North Korea's attack to the tiny island located nearby North Korea. Two young navies and two citizens were killed by the attack.

Korean people and groups take to the streets to protest against military invasion and war.

Thanks so much for your concerns about Korean students' peace mural.

Best regards,

Jeonghyo Kim



Discussion points


Detail of Lebanon mural "Enough! We want to live."

What terms should be used to describe the reality in which people live in, for instance, Lebanon? Iman Mourad, coordinator of the Kids' Guernica murals painted in Tripoli, Lebanon, describes the situation as living in a 'schizophrenia of peace'. Everywhere can be found a similar setting. On the one hand, there is the risk of yet another bomb going off while on the other, and practically just across the street, young people enter a disco to listen to music. If no immediate war rages in the street where one lives, war exists in the minds of many people due to fears but also memories. While the Western perception the war fought in Afghanistan has been based often on deception by declaring it to be a Humanitarian mission rather than an outright war, what took place in Iraq after the invasion in March 2003 seems to have disappeared out the headlines of the main stream press and therefore public conscioiusness. Repeatedly other areas of conflict flare up over and again, and not only in the Middle East but in different places in Africa, never mind what is happening in Pakistan. But then in view of democratic struggles going on with the intention to make a non violent transition to democracy as in Tunisia and Egypt, the question can be asked if this can be understood as well as an emancipation from such a 'schizophrenia', equally hypocrisy of those who fear loss of their privileges and therefore pay but scant observance to upholding human rights and the dignity of the human being?

If the cultural dimension for peace can be linked to a truthful life, then it becomes a matter of letting children articulate themselves not in black and white schematic forms for life is not black and white, but filled with colors. Thus articulation of truth is linked to being honest, truthful and therefore accountable both in public and in private. Recalling what Adorno said in 'minima moralia', namely "there cannot be realised a truthful life if living in wrong structures", this can be extended to what structure means for any subject. If working in a nuclear plant or in weapon's factory, no person can be truthful as long as working in such places for if the connection to war and damage to the environment is seen, then there have to be taken some practical consequences like not working there. Otherwise the person is engaged in self rationalisation as if there is no alternative to earning the money elsewhere. The ethical dilemma begins with the need to earn a living but it does not really start or ends there.

Roger Simon in Toronto, Canada initiated a discussion in a Toronto gallery about "war at a distance". Out of this result some pertinent questions about war and peace in a pedagogical sense. These questions are based on aesthetical reflections made during the discussion in that art gallery in Toronto in Nov. 2009. Reviewed were images conveyed by videos Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan had uploaded onto YouTube.

Further reference: Roger Simon will participate 2011 in some of the activities of Concordia's Centre for Ethnography and Exhibition around the theme: "In the Aftermath of Violence" (see CEREV: http://cerev.concordia.ca/


"Just quickly bouncing off the program for the one day conference, it makes me think that we live in a culture of visual inflation, and the sheer volume of images and their omnipresence disconnects the viewer from meaning. As most popular media rips the images from their emotional and social context, images are drained of their meaning and their power to effect emotion and power. So shocking images serve only the context of the media broadcaster/distributor and neutered of meaning actually inoculate the viewer against comprehension by anesthetizing them with sensation at the expense of consequence. 
This is why 'war at a distance' can proceed. It is the danger that all images face in the culture of today. It is also why I think Kid's Guernica is important because it connects images to human actions and results. I think an important question worth discussion at Gent becomes how to broaden that education to the society at large."

Stephen Faigenbaum film maker in Paris

The topic entails a reflection of philosophical discussion taking place in Denmark with Oleg Koefoed and Rasmus Ahrenkilde among others. One of the main thesis expounded upon is that war forces culture into the wrong compromises. Most recent events like the youth protest in Greece 2008 start to question the social compromise made when that country emerged out of dictatorship in 1974. Certain social groups agreed on a new start of democratic life but this historical compromise is increasingly challenged.

What is the impact of a critical analysis about defense budgets and the implications of war machineries being financed rather than investing in education and the culture of peace? For instance, the Herald Tribune reports in January that the EU foreign policy is linked to efforts to lift the arms embargo to China so that European companies can export weapons to China, the new big power player at global level. Such a foreign policy priority is not compatible with furthering peace in the world nor a contribution towards decreasing the dependency of the economy upon weapons' trade even though it is known that a war economy is one of the most inefficient models. The United States is spending 3 trillion dollars a year on weapon productions and is getting ever deeper into debt. Greece had likewise an out of proportions defense budget and got financially speaking into difficulties. To be consumer of weapons for the sake of some fake security especially if states step in to buy these products is not a free market orientation but a growing dependency upon state subsidies. A war economy is inefficient for this reason. As to the security agenda, a simple question can be posed: does any citizen but also any politician know really if two or four more planes will enhance security situation? Most often money is overspend on disfunctional weapons i.e. outdated airplanes, non operational security systems (e.g. SIEMENS for the Olympic Games in Athens 2004 never brought that installed system to work properly) or lop sided submarines (being sold to Greece by Germany even at the height of financial crisis). All this indicates a huge squandering of rare resources. This is not responsible governance. So how can foreign policy and international relations contribute towards arms reduction and a decrease in dependency upon the war economy? For instance, both Turkey and Greece attempt to decrease the tensions between them so that both governments can justify spending cuts in their defense budgets. To give courage to such political development, and to reinforce the cultural dimension, it might be helpful to remind of the famous line in Pericles' funeral speech when speaking to the Athenians: 'not standing armies protect the city but active citizenship!'

Reference: EU foreign policy


Memorandum of Understanding - a first proposal

Memorandum of Understanding:

Adhere to following value premise and methodology of Kids' Guernica when wishing to bring about peace


Painting as universal language: children and youth from Chios, Greece and Izmir, Turkey painting together a Kids' Guernica mural in Izmir, September 2007

Co-ordinators for Izmir-Chios mural: Deniz Hasirci, Gulistan Banu Cel Sevgi, Efi Lipari, Thomas Economacos, Hatto Fischer

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