The Kids' Guernica Project 2005 - 2006 Takuya Kaneda
The KIDS' GUERNICA International Children's Peace Mural Project was inspire by a famous Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso's Guernica, a painting made to protest the brutality of the bombing of the town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. In 1937, Picasso created his masterpiece against the tragedy in the town of Guernica, which was attacke by the first indicriminate bombing of civilians in the history. In 2001, the United States suffered from the first attack by high-jacked planes. Nearly seventy years after the tragedy in Guernica, the world is not free from violence and still full of terror and sorrow.
This project started in 1995, on the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II by ART JAPAN NETWORK, a cultural organization in Kyoto, Japan. In 2000, the KIDS' GUERNICA International Committee was established for the further development of the project. The main purpose of the KIDS' GUERNICA project is to foster peace consciousnes among people in the world through peace paintings on huge canvase the same size as Picasso's Guernica (3,5 x 7,8 m), created by children in different places of the world. This project includes both workshops and exhibitions. Many workshops followed after the first workshop in the United States in 1995. More than 100 wonderful peace paintings were already completed for this project in nearly 40 countries by the spring of 2006. The KIDS' GUERNICA Project can provide a wonderful opportunity for us to appreciate the diversity of the participating children's social and cultural backgrounds. Different cultures have different symbols and images to convey their messages of peace. It is sure that appreciation of cultural diversities in the paintings can be the basis of international understanding.
In 2000, the KIDS' GUERNICA international exhibition wa held in Kathmandu, Nepal, a country of the beautiful Himalayas. In the next international exhibition was in 2001 at Kronplatz in the Alps of Italy. The open-air exhibition in the snowy mountain was very spectacular. Last year, in August, 2005, the 10th Anniversary Exhibition was successfully carried out in Ubud, a village famous for its traditional arts in the center of beautiful Bali island, Indonesia to share a peaceful time in a peaceful place of artistic people.
In these past ten years of this project, more than 10,000 children from different nationalities, cultures and religions have participated in the KIDS' GUERNICA workshops and innumerable people saw the children's wonderful paintings to express their strong wish for peace. Even using the same theme: peace, each painting shows different images of peace just as each child's face is different.
Usually, contemporary art emphasizes the importance of self-expression. However, the KIDS' GUERNICA is not an individual art work but a collaborative one. This is the core of this project. In each workshop, the participant children must work together to enlarge and paint their images of peace on a huge canvas. This process requires much time and patience. They learn the importance of collaboration through the whole process of painting and be satisfied after achieving their great work. It is needless to say that we would not be able to realize world peace without working together. In this way the KIDS' GUERNICA is a symbol of collaboration; working together toward the peaceful world.
Such collaboration is not only among children but also between children and adults. The KIDS' GUERNICA project can connect children and adults in society through art. This project has involved many teachers, parents, administrator, journalists and so on as well as children.
The Internet is playing a vital role in expanding this project. All the peace paintings are shown in the virtual gallery of the KIDS' GUERNICA Website at www.kids-guernica.org . Thousands of people access this Website all over the world and ome contacted the International Committee online to organize new workshops. Networking via the Internet also inpired the management of this project, eliminating hierarchical top-down management. Just as every computer user definines his or her own space on the Web, each organizer can execute the workshop in his or her own way, not strictly controlled from the top in this project. The role of the International Committee is not to control each workshop but only to facilitate each workshop as it works for the proliferation of peace.
It is important for the KIDS' GUERNICA to engage many people and connects art with society just as the German artist, Joseph Beuys once stressed in his iea of social sculpture. The KIDS' GUERNICA is not political propaganda for peace, but an imaginative an artistic peace movement. Imagination is synonymous with having a dream. Art always gives a dream to people and stimulates their imagination. After the tragedy in New York, people became more pessimistic and could hardly dream of world peace. However, as far as we can imagine the peaceful world, there exits a hope for it. A pacifist is often criticized as an idealist but world peace cannot be achieved without having the ideal. Idealizing requires imagination; the kind an artist needs it in front of a white canvas. Only the artistic creativity can shape it. The KIDS' GUERNICA itself could be recognized as a kind of art work which requires imagination and creativity. Having a dream needs imagination and realizing it needs creativity. This project is taking shape as an artist is creating his/her own work. Such imagination and creativity are also required to build a peaceful world.
The KIDS' GUERNICA is not a project of virtual reality inside computers but one of actual experience although we have been fully utilizing Internet connections to manage this project and the paintings from different countries are exhibite in a virtual gallery of the website. In the KIDS' GUENRICA workshops, participant children have to face and experience realities of the huge canvas such as its size, weight and texture through their painting. Their hands become dirty with colors because this is not a computer art which never make their hands colored. This aspect of actual experience in this project seems educationally very important for children today who are living in the computer age of virtual reality.
The KIDS' GUERNICA peace paintings might be called movable murals. Murals are usually painted on walls, but a wall is a symbol of separation just like the Berlin Wall. The movable murals on canvas, on the other hand, might be thought of as a metaphor of removing separation. World peace cannot be accomplished without removing separation among nations, races, religions, cultures and people.
Bali was chosen as an ideal site for KIDS' GUERNICA peace event because of its beautiful location and artistic tradition. Crete is also a very suitable site for the coming event as an island of historically peace-loving people and its rich cultural heritage. KIDS' GUERNICA is virtually an art work on the globe-size canvas to express the spirit of peace, connecting each workshop site, covering bloodstained conflict places, and highlighting several beautiful spots on the earth like Bali and Crete. This art work would be appreciated not by a spaceship view far away from the earth but our imaginative vision.
Note: written in anticipation of the exhibition of Kids' Guernica held in Kastelli, Crete 2006 and after Poiein kai Prattein participated for the first time in the 10th anniversary exhibition held in Ubud, Bali